EASTPORT, Maine — Police Chief Matt Vinson reported to the City Council on Monday night that there were five accidents involving deer just in the month of November.
By the next day, the trend was continuing.
“I just dealt with another car-deer accident this morning,” Vinson said.
The city of Eastport consists entirely of islands connected by a causeway from Pleasant Point, the largest of which is Moose Island. Of the 12.1 square miles in Eastport, only 3.7 are land. The rest is water.
The 2000 Census estimated there were 750 households on Moose Island.
Vinson estimated there are 400 deer.
“It is bizarre,” Vinson said Tuesday. “They are everywhere. Because we are an island, they have no where to go. At 1 a.m., driving into Eastport from Pleasant Point, I can easily see 20 deer.”
Vinson said the town’s fear is that if there are a couple of easy winters in a row, the town will be overrun.
Hunting with guns is not allowed in Eastport, but bow season runs the full month of October.
“It is no secret that we have tons of deer and the bow hunters flock here,” Vinson said. “Last year I had to dedicate one full-time office just to bow hunters.”
The City Council agreed Monday night to set a workshop for January to discuss refining the language of the town’s firearm control ordinance.
“The objective is not to lift the gun ordinance,” Vinson said. “We will never have gun hunting on Moose Island. But we need to change some definitions and possibly change the fine.”
Right now, he said, if a person shoots a deer on the island, the fine is $25.
“That is certainly not a deterrent,” he said. “It is almost worth it for some people to shoot the deer and then just pay the fine.”
At that January workshop, he will initiate a discussion about possible solutions for the deer overpopulation, Vinson said. “We’ve got to figure it out. They’re walking all over downtown.”
Some options could be a controlled hunt by the Maine Warden Service or hiring a company that would relocate the deer, he said.
“We normally have 17 to 18 car-deer accidents a year,” Vinson said. “But to have five in one month — I’ve never seen anything like it.”
In other business at Monday’s meeting, the council voted to file a letter of intent for a Community Development Block Grant to develop a pocket park on the site of Overlook Park in the downtown.
Town Manager George “Bud” Finch said the park would have amphitheater-style seating and be a community gathering place in Eastport’s historic downtown.
If an application is submitted and successful in obtaining funding, the total project cost would be $168,000. The CDBG would provide $150,000 of that, with the town providing $18,000 in matching funds.
Finch also told the council that the fuel system installation at the town’s airport has been completed and training and a state and federal inspection will be done by the end of the week.
“I expect the first customers will be the Border Patrol,” he said.
Finch also reported that revenues to date are slightly ahead of predictions while state revenue sharing is $43,000 behind last year.
“But it still is within the target of our budget predictions,” he said.