Council approves deer plan
In a 3-0 vote, the New Shoreham Town Council approved a comprehensive plan to reduce Block Island's deer. This approval is conditional on receiving a legal review of the plan by the town's attorney.
"I just think we have to do something, and the time to do it is now," said Councilor Norris Pike at the council meeting on Wednesday, Dec. 18.
Councilor Chris Warfel abstained, stating he did not want to vote to support or deny the plan.
"We have to start somewhere for the health of the community," said island resident Annie Hall, referring to the notion that tick-borne diseases would be reduced if the deer population is reduced. "My children have already had Lyme disease... but I hope my grandchildren never have to go through the chronic suffering that comes with Lyme disease."
The state Department of Environmental Management (DEM) plan, titled "Block Island Deer Reduction," would involve a non-recreational hunt with a professional sharpshooting company called White Buffalo, Inc.
The hunt would begin early next year.
The first year of this plan is designed to reduce the island's deer population by about 200, according to the DEM. According to DEM wildlife biologist Brian Tefft, there may be as many as 1,200 deer on the island.
The plan would only go into effect if sufficient funding is raised. Private organizations on-island have been fundraising to pay for the estimated cost of $128,300.