TREMONT, Maine — Local officials have decided to take a poll of voters to see if something should be done about the deer population on Mount Desert Island.
Deer hunting on MDI has been banned since the 1930s, which, according to some island residents, has led to an overpopulation of deer on the island. In the past year, the issue has become a frequent topic of conversation among municipal officials on MDI and representatives of Acadia National Park. The park owns approximately 36,000 acres on MDI.
The most likely way to address the issue, officials have said, would be to have the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife authorize a special hunt on the island to cull the herd. Such a hunt would take place outside the park, where hunting is banned by federal law, and only in towns that support the effort.
Millard Billings, Tremont’s town manager, said Tuesday at an MDI League of Towns meeting that Tremont selectmen have decided to take a poll of registered voters to see whether they might support a special depredation hunt. He said the town plans to mail out a questionnaire on the issue prepared by College of the Atlantic in Bar Harbor. The responses, which will be strictly voluntary, will be mailed back to COA, which then will collate the data, he said.
Billings said the process is expected to take several months, at the least. He said selectmen expect that conducting the poll will cost the town around $1,600.
A Bar Harbor committee established by the Town Council in October is still looking into the issue, Bar Harbor Town Manager Dana Reed told other league officials.
Other MDI town officials said Tuesday that their communities are less eager to examine whether they might want to participate in a depredation hunt. Southwest Harbor Town Manager Don Lagrange said selectmen there are not enthusiastic about the idea. Durlin Lunt, town manager for Mount Desert, said that town isn’t likely to revisit the issue, having considered the idea and then rejected it in the mid-2000s.
Follow BDN reporter Bill Trotter on Twitter at @billtrotter.