Block Island has a deer population problem, and the small Rhode Island Community will spend about $130,000 over the next four years to pay sharpshooters to thin the herd. Of course, they could invite a group of bow hunters who would do the job for free and feed their families in the process, yet the locals have opted to treat America’s number one game animal as a pest and hire an exterminator. Here’s the information:
It might seem quaint today how Block Islanders ferried over four does and four bucks from the mainland 45 years ago to establish a deer herd for their idyllic ocean community – if only it hadn’t come to this. Last week, town officials confronting a population that has grown wildly out of control decided they had no choice other than to hire experts to visit their island and systematically shoot deer – a first for Rhode Island.
Concerned about damage to landscaping, crops and plant ecology, as well as the spread of tick-borne diseases such as Lyme, the New Shoreham Town Council not only set aside discomfort with ordering the large-scale killing of deer but also the need for islanders to pick up the six-figure tab. The culling could cost as much as $128,000 this winter, including $29,000 for the rendering of carcasses. But Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management officials say that the cost is likely to come in significantly lower.
Comparable amounts are likely to be needed over the next four years to progressively reduce the herd from an estimated 800 to 1,000 deer down to 100 to 150, according to Brian Tefft, a deer biologist with the state Department of Environmental Management. The goal is 10 to 15 deer per square mile on the 9.5-square-mile island.