Deer Reduction Committee
Paul Hatch, Jr.
The mission of the Deer Reduction Committee, established by the Selectmen after a Town vote in 2011, is to formulate and implement a plan for reducing the deer population on Islesboro and 700 Acre Island to 10 deer per square mile and maintaining the population at that level.
In February 2016 the Board of Selectmen suspended the activities of the DRC indefinitely (see below).
Since 2008, when the number of Lyme disease cases on the island spiked to 18 from 5 the previous year, the Town of Islesboro has taken a series of measures relating to tick-borne disease prevention.
- Formed four committees: the Health Center Advisory Board's "tick committee" (2008-09); the Tick-borne Disease Prevention Committee (2010-11 and 2014-present); the Deer Reduction Committee (2012-present).
- Prepared a comprehensive report about tick-borne disease (2011).
- Submitted articles for votes at Town Meetings in 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015.
- Conducted deer pellet surveys to estimate the deer population in 2010, 2011, 2015.
- Conducted tick surveys to estimate the tick population and infection rates beginning in 1997, annually since 2009.
- Submitted a deer reduction plan to the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MDIF&W).
- Conducted Special Hunts in 2012, 2013/14, 2014/15.
- Distributed information through mailings, newspaper articles, and a variety of community meetings.
- Established relationships with experts in the tick-borne disease prevention field.
For a step-by-step general history of tick-borne disease prevention on Islesboro, please see below Key Documents, "Comprehensive Chronology of Tick-borne Disease Prevention on Islesboro".
KEY DRC ACTIVITIES, 2011-2016
- Fall 2011/Winter 2012 - DRC determines that the most effective way to implement its mandate - to reduce the deer population on Islesboro and 700 Acre Island to 10 per square mile and maintain it at that level - is to conduct a Special Deer Hunt with shotguns for three years, beginning in December 2012. A harvest of 100 deer per year is anticipated.
- Winter 2012 - DRC submits a request to conduct the Special Hunt to the MDIF&W's Advisory Council, which in September gives its approval.
- May 12, 2012 - Town Meeting considers article to accept the DRC's plan to reduce the deer population to 10 per square mile by means of a Special Hunt and to maintain it at that level. Article approved 100-28.
- December 10-31, 2012 - First Special Hunt. 50 deer harvested.
- Winter 2013 - Because the Special Hunt harvest was lower than expected, MDIF&W recommends considering replacing the Special Hunt with a sharpshooting program and introduces DRC to Anthony DeNicola of White Buffalo, Inc., who submits a proposal.
- June 10, 2013 - Special Town Meeting to consider sharpshooting option. Article rejected 97-43. A second article expanding the Special Hunt from after the Expanded Archery season through the end of February passes 83-87.
- December 16, 2013 - February 28, 2014 - Second Special Hunt. 36 deer harvested.
- June - September, 2014 - Worried by the many cases of Lyme Disease contracted on Islesboro in 2013 (53 confirmed, 27 suspected), a group consisting largely of summer residents forms Concerned Citizens of Islesboro (CCI). They circulate and present to the Selectmen a petition advocating for a Special Town Meeting to consider suspending the third Special Hunt in favor of a sharpshooting program and raise approximately $350,000 in pledges to underwrite the cost for four years.
- September 30, 2014 - Special Town Meeting to consider sharpshooting options. Article rejected 148-87.
- December 15, 2014 - February 28, 2015 - Third Special Hunt. 38 deer harvested.
- April 27 - April 30, 2015 - Stantec Consulting conducts deer pellet survey. For results, see their report below.
- May 26, 2015 - DRC submits request for second Special Hunt to MDIF&W. For a copy of the request see below.
- June 11, 2015 - At a Special Town Meeting, by a vote of 45-27, voters approved the following article: To see if the Town will vote to authorize a three year Special Deer Hunt to be conducted from December 14, 2015 through February 29, 2016; December 12, 2016 through February 28, 2017; and December 11, 2017 through February 18, 2018 (i.e., without any overlap with the Expanded Archery season on Islesboro) on such terms and conditions as recommended to the Board of Selectmen by the Deer Reduction Committee; subject to the approval of the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries & Wildlife; and subject to an annual review by the Board of Selectmen.
- September 16, 2015. By a 11-1 vote, the Advisory Council of MDIF&W rejects Islesboro's request on the grounds that a second three-year Special Hunt would not be effective.
- Fall 2016. Selectmen work with Islesboro community to develop a new deer reduction strategy. Meet with State Commissioners of MDIF&W and Health and Human Services.
- February 10, 2016 - At a Special Town Meeting, by a vote of 81-41, voters reject the following article: To see if the Town will vote to request the State Legislature to allow the Town of Islesboro to participate in the Maine State Firearms seasons of 2016, 2017, and 2018, and back to bow hunting only thereafter.
- February 24, 2016. In view of the February 10 vote, the Selectmen put the activities of the DRC "on hold".
For documents relating to DRC activities please see Key Documents below.
Key Documents Relating to the DRC's Work
Deer pellet surveys:
For further information about tick-borne disease prevention, please see the Tick-borne Disease Prevention Committee's website, ticksonislesboro.com.