A state deer expert will meet with Yarmouth residents next week to get a handle on the extent of “the deer problem” on Cousins Island.

Scott Lindsay, regional biologist for the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, said he’s had multiple reports from residents concerned that they are seeing more deer than usual on the island, and the Feb. 21 listening session at 6:30 p.m. at the Log Cabin will help him determine whether he needs to pursue solutions.

“When people see deer regularly, sometimes the assumption is that there’s a deer problem,” Lindsay told The Forecaster.

Although residents often like to see deer around the island, deer can damage gardens, increase the potential for exposure to Lyme disease and cause car crashes.

“If people are seeing deer all over the roads, that’s often a concern for people,” he said.

The town is hosting the listening session with Lindsay, but Yarmouth Community Services Director Karyn MacNeill said she hasn’t heard from residents about a deer problem.


“I currently have no comments on this concern,” she said.

Deer populations can rise for a number of reasons, Lindsay said, including a reduction in hunting and an increase in deer reproductive rates. Coastal areas of Maine also tend to have a low winter severity and that decreases mortality rates.

An island like Cousins Island provides a good habitat for deer, Lindsay said. Areas providing shrubbery with open space and fields are very attractive to them.

If the deer population on Cousins Island has risen and is causing problems for residents, opening up hunting is the best solution, he said. Other methods, like trapping, relocating and sterilization, are not as effective.

“We just want to keep them at a level where they’re not causing problems or doing damage,” Lindsay said. “The preferred way is to increase the availability to hunt the area,” Lindsay said. “The goal is not to eliminate deer from any of the islands. People like to see them, they’re part of our landscape.”

Currently, the hunting limitations in Yarmouth do not allow rifles, but they do allow shotguns and bow hunting, which are not ideal for many hunters.


His department could encourage landowners to work with hunters to allow them to hunt on their land, Lindsay said.

“We do have options for opening the doors for hunting even in more developed areas in Maine,” he said.

Once a founding population establishes itself up on an island like Cousins Island, possibly by swimming there from the mainland, he said, it can easily expand.

“Deer are pretty good swimmers,” Lindsay said. “I’ve seen them even a mile offshore, swimming to Long Island, Cliff Island, or even Chebeague Island.”

The meeting on Wednesday, Feb. 21, will also be accessible via Zoom.

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