The Block Island Times

Details of DEM deer plan announced

By Stephanie Turaj | Dec 09, 2013

A plan that would reduce Block Island's deer population up to 200 deer next year would cost $128,300 for the first year of this five-year plan.

The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) submitted its plan, titled "Block Island Deer Reduction," to the town on Dec. 5. It can be found on the town's website here. The New Shoreham Town Council must approve the plan before it goes into effect.

The details of the plan will be debated in a public forum on Tuesday, Dec. 10 in the cafeteria of the Block Island School. The meeting begins at 6 p.m.

The DEM has proposed a non-recreational hunt scheduled to begin early next year with a professional sharpshooting company called White Buffalo, Inc.

A private organization, White Buffalo Inc., will perform the hunt: "White Buffalo was selected by DEM because of the organization's proven track record with over 18 years of experience with numerous successful deer reduction efforts..."

Three professional hunters, referred to in the plan as "sharpshooters," would work to reduce the herd, although not eliminate the deer completely. The plan call for as many as 150 to 200 deer to be eliminated in the first year.

According to the plan, the "DEM finds that recreational hunting must be augmented by non-recreational deer herd reduction via deer removal using alternative methods to protect the ecological health of plant communities on Block Island. The alternative method under consideration is scientifically controlled sharp shooting over bait deployed by an experienced contractor. This method has a proven track record for safety and success in other states."

The plan states that locations proposed for "2014 (year 1), of this bait and shoot culling operation, fall within a 2 to 3 square mile area in the southwest portions of Block Island." This area includes Rodman's Hollow and the Block Island Airport, and also includes residential properties. To that end, the plan states that "DEM proposes to legal access agreement with property owners, primarily owners of Conservation Lands, and to work closely with law enforcement in establishing baiting sites that will provide for both public safety and the greatest utility to ensure public safety."

The $128,330 cost includes $49,000 for three sharpshooters to hunt on the island for two weeks.

Other costs would be: $15,000 for "Baiting (corn and labor);" $11,600 for hotel expenses for the sharpshooters ($200 a night); a per diem of $4,200 ($60 a day times 70 person-days); $10,000 for "Law Enforcement Supplemental."

The Windham Butcher Shop, a licensed butcher shop out of Maine, has a $29,000 budget: $120 per deer (for 200 deer, $24,000); $15 per deer rendering ($3,000) and $2,000 for lodgings and laundry. The meat will be distributed to the Block Island Community.

Members of the Deer Task Force have said repeatedly they hope to raise private funds to pay for the cull.

Costs for the remaining five years of the plan would be determined on a later date by the Block Island Deer Task Force, according to the DEM.

The DEM proposal describes the process used to cull the deer herd. First, there will be an aerial survey of the island's current deer population and preparation of the area used for the hunt, which will be a 2 to 3 square mile area in the Southwest portions of Block Island.

Deer "culling operations" will begin in mid-February, 2014, according to the proposal, and involve baiting of the deer and then hunting them for about a two-week period.

The plan will be formally presented to the Town Council and the Deer Task Force at a meeting on Dec. 10, 6 p.m, at the Block Island School cafeteria.


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