CHARLESTOWN - The Rhode Island National Wildlife Refuge Complex (RINWRC), a division of the National Fish and Wildlife Service, is in the process of constructing a White-tailed Deer Management Plan for the Block Island and Ninigret National Wildlife Refuges. A public workshop was held at the Kettle Pond Visitors Center on Thursday, Nov. 10, to collect public input on the plan and to answer questions.
The service has outlined three action alternatives for the plan, and the service’s preferred alternative is a white-tailed deer hunt program following special regulations. These regulations would restrict hunting dates, weapons allowed and hunter density.
The other two alternatives are a deer hunt that follows general state regulations, and a no-action alternative that would maintain the current management practices.
Deputy Refuge Manager of the RINWRC Juancarlos Giese said that the three alternatives were created through sound scientific decisions on how to best manage the deer population.
“We worked with the state as well as the town and spent all summer gathering information and doing research,” he said.
The dilemma stems from a high population of deer, which can have several negative effects on different aspects of native plant life, wildlife and habitats. Communities and habitats in Rhode Island can support 12 to 15 deer per square mile, while Ninigret Park currently hosts an estimated 24 deer per square mile, according to the RINWRC biological program.