The Block Island Times

R.I. DEM to work with Deer Task Force members

Work session set for May 14
By Stephanie Turaj | May 13, 2013
Source: File photo

The Department of Environmental Management (DEM) will begin working with Block Island to help reduce its deer population, and will meet with some Deer Task Force (DTF) members on May 14 in a closed work session at DEM's Great Swamp facility in West Kingston.

The collaboration comes after a meeting last month at which the DEM strongly supported recreational hunting and rejected a DTF proposal of nighttime hunting to eliminate the island’s deer.

At that meeting, town officials and residents seemed unimpressed with the DEM’s stance, and Town Manager Nancy Dodge had said, “Your focus is hunting. You are missing the circumstances we face. Where do you suggest we go?”

After this initial hiccup, it seems the two parties will sit down in earnest to craft a solution.

“I want to keep it positive and keep the lines of communication open with the community,” said DEM Assistant Director of Natural Resources Catherine Sparks.

“We will develop a multi-year plan that allows for adaption from lessons learned,” said Sparks in an email to DTF members. “We will incorporate after action reviews to assess what is working well and what needs improvement as part of the ongoing process.”

Sparks outlined, “priority goals for public safety, substantial reduction in deer population size, humane treatment of deer taken and responsible use/distribution of meat.”

Sparks said the process will take some time. “It is my expectation there will be many meetings to come and quite a number on Block Island with the DTF, the Town Council and the public,” said Sparks in the email. “My goal is to have DEM and town representatives work in collaboration to formulate a thoughtful, strategic approach to addressing what we recognize as too many deer on Block Island.”

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