ISLESBORO, Maine — Islesboro residents are having a special deer hunt on their island to reduce the number of Lyme disease cases and protect the island’s woodlands.
The Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife has signed off on a controlled deer hunt to run from Dec.10 through the end of the year.
The island allows deer hunting from September into early December, but only with bows and arrows.
The special season allows shotguns, the first that’s ever happened on the island. It’s open only to residents and family members.
At an island meeting held in August of 2011, voters approved killing about 400 of the estimated 500 deer that live on the island. The vote was 100-28, according to BDN reports at the time.
Islesboro is an island of about 600 year-round residents, about 70 of whom have contracted Lyme disease, according to previous reports. At least 20 were diagnosed with the disease in 2011, and about 20 more cases were suspected but unconfirmed.
According to the DIF&W “basis statement” explaining the reasoning for the new hunting season, the Islesboro Deer Reduction Committee received consultation on two deer population estimates. Both of those consultations indicated that the deer population was abnormally high for such a small area.
In one study the density was established at 50 deer per square mile; in the other, the estimate was 48 deer per square mile.
According to published BDN accounts, a healthy deer population density in Maine is about 10 deer per square mile.