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Town to conduct deer census with local volunteers

To get an estimate of just how many deer there are roaming from Laurel to Orient Point, Southold Town’s department of public works will be conducting a deer census next month and is calling on volunteers to pitch in. 

The census will also help determine which areas in town need more deer-management efforts. 

Volunteers will be asked to “patrol” an assigned area by vehicle, keeping a log of any deer that they see while traveling in their zone, said town environmental analyst Craig Jobes. 

Helpers will be given a time frame around dusk to set out for the count, and the process will be repeated on three separate occasions. An average will be calculated to be show result, Mr. Jobes said. He said he plans to to assign volunteers to a zone near where they live so that they are familiar with the area they survey.

No real estimate has ever been done in the town, Mr. Jobes said.  

“We feel that a project like this could be a step in the right direction and we look forward to involving the public and our residents in the collection of this data,” Mr. Jobes said. 

Southold Town runs a deer management program that formed in 2008 with the goal of reducing deer numbers through bow-hunting on 23 properties in town in the 2017-2018 season, four of which are jointly owned with Suffolk County. Hunters, residents or Suffolk County veterans, are chosen by lottery. 

“Being that a very large portion of out town is privately owned, this is an extremely important part of helping cut down the deer population around town,” he said. “It is imperative that we obtain a large cooperation in the efforts between landowners and local bow hunters.”

Local concerns about the deer population over the years, including those raised at deer management committee meetings, have included health matters such as Lyme disease and other illnesses carried by deer ticks, otherwise known as black-legged ticks. Other worries are ecological, with deer eating the undergrowth of forests, as well as deer-versus-vehicle accidents. 

In addition to getting an idea of the local deer population, the data collected will be used to learn more about where hunting efforts could possibly be focused, whether by using a town-owned property through the deer management program or by connecting private landowners with local hunters, Mr. Jobes said. 

Interested volunteers can email their name, address and phone number to Craig Jobes at [email protected].

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