The Town of New Shoreham and the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management have agreed to reschedule the Deer Reduction Pilot Project until the 2014-2015 hunting season.
The field work for this project began in January of this year to identify sites to be used for baiting deer with corn. Baiting began on Jan. 30 and culling deer by sharp shooters was to have begun on Monday, Feb. 24.
Following months of discussion, evaluation and planning that began in the spring of 2013, the Town and DEM reached formal agreement to implement a plan to address the high population of white-tailed deer on Block Island. The Town of New Shoreham and the DEM have worked in collaboration to address the need to reduce the deer herd. The population is approximately eight to 10 times the desirable level for cultural tolerance and ecological health on Block Island. The community of New Shoreham has expressed concerns with deer nuisance issues such as crop and landscape damage – as well as expressed concerns related to human illness from tick-borne diseases. Over-abundance of deer on Block Island has generated concern for long-term impacts to island ecology.
The inability to utilize suppressors on rifles was clearly going to be a factor in the overall success of the culling operation. Based upon White Buffalo’s initial assessment of the deer herd and the sites, the lack of suppressors by themselves was not necessarily a reason to cancel the program. But a combination of additional circumstances: a shorter baiting period than hoped for, a hunting season still ongoing in surrounding areas, weather that was ill-timed in relation to the baiting cycles, and observed deer activity over the past week, all prompted White Buffalo to express serious reservations about the success of the operation at this time.
The decision to reschedule the culling until next year is based on ensuring the success of this important project and has been recommended by the contractor. It will give us an opportunity to work with White Buffalo to address concerns which had no time for correction and also to be better poised to begin this project next winter.
- Town Manager Nancy Dodge and the Department of Environmental Management (DEM)