Professional sharpshooters will descend on Block Island next week to cull the island’s deer population.
The Connecticut-based company hired to cull the deer population has been scattering bait since early February to lure deer to specific areas around Block Island.
The Department of Environmental Management estimates the island is home to 80 or more deer per square mile. That’s more than the island can handle, and the deer spread Lyme disease. The Virginia white tailed deer population has grown out of control with no natural predators on the island, and the move to reduce their population through culling has been controversial. The project may cost up to $128,000.
Lifelong Block Island resident and hunter Christopher Blane disagrees with the hiring of professional sharpshooters.
“This problem can be easily managed locally and with the unemployment rate we have in this state to pay a company from Connecticut $128,000 basically is disgraceful,” said Blane.
New Shoreham town manager Nancy Dodge says traditional hunting hasn’t done enough to lower the deer population. She said the local deer task force and the Department of Environmental Management decided hiring a professional company was the next best step.
“The option, as we have said from day one, is out there after the first year or after the second year to switch back to local hunters,” said Dodge.
The sharpshooters will complete the culling by March 8.
The deer carcasses will be prepared as venison and distributed for free to Block Island residents. Any extra meat will be donated to the Rhode Island Food Bank.