TREMONT – Oh dear.
The question of deer management is once again before selectmen.
Resident Marc Fink was at the board’s meeting Monday to advocate for a limited archery season for deer within the boundaries of the town.
Fink cited the growing number of car-deer accidents, an increase in Lyme disease and damage to gardens and landscaping as evidence that Tremont has an overabundance of deer. Still, he admitted, “It’s hard to frame with numbers.”
This isn’t the first time selectmen have been approached about curtailing the deer population.
In 2005, selectmen formed a deer management committee charged with looking into the issue. That board, which included current chairman Kathi Thurston, opted to determine whether some form of management was needed instead of rushing to get a hunting ordinance before voters at the annual town meeting.
Gauging the opinions of townspeople wouldn’t happen for another eight years. In 2013, the town sent out surveys to gauge the extent, if any, of an overpopulation of deer. Of the 464 respondents, 61 percent said they believe the deer population in Tremont is “way too large” or “too large.” Forty-three percent said the deer population in the town should be reduced annually.
Tremont isn’t the only town on Mount Desert Island struggling to come to terms with a high number of deer. On Election Day in Bar Harbor, voters turned down a management proposal that would have allowed some form of hunting.
Fink said he attended the public hearings leading up to the vote in Bar Harbor and believes the issue there was clouded by misinformation about hunting.
“They made it kind of sound like D-Day,” he said. “As a hunter, I don’t think there will be this mass slaughter of deer, because deer are extremely smart.”
Fink suggested that the town begin by allowing a limited archery season, then perhaps later include firearms.
Selectmen were not swayed.
“I’m not for it. I’ll tell you right now,” said Stewart Murphy.
Board member Dean Wass said he doesn’t believe there is a problem in Tremont.
“Personally, I don’t think there’s an overpopulation of deer on this side of the island,” he said.
There are methods of dealing with property damage caused by deer, Wass continued, including the use of deterrents. If necessary, the warden’s service can issue a permit to kill a nuisance deer.
Saying she, too, was not in favor of a deer hunt, Thurston asked Murphy and Wass if they wanted a warden to attend a meeting to discuss the issue further. Instead, the board approved 3-0 a motion to postpone making that decision until the absent member, Chris Eaton, could attend.