With the rut just around the corner and hot-and-bothered deer at their most reckless, the Massachusetts Highway Department has told the town of West Tisbury it is done disposing of dead deer on state roads.
“Last Friday Mass Highway was called because a dead deer was on a state road and generally they go out and pick it up but they informed us they’re not going to do it anymore,” said town administrator Jen Rand. “The reason being they say there’s no place to put it.”
Ms. Rand said that technically Mass Highway was right and that they had previously been disposing of the animals informally.
“There is not an official place to put it, there is an unofficial place to put it and everyone in the town understands what to do with it,” she said.
At the end of the meeting, however, Ms. Rand and selectman Jeffrey (Skipper) Manter claimed ignorance when asked what that unofficial policy was.
“I do not know what they do with the deer,” Mr. Manter said. “They come pick them up in the truck and what they do after that I truly don’t know.”
Mr. Manter did say, however, that there was a process for distributing the carcasses to Island venison enthusiasts.
“When a car hits a deer the highway department isn’t automatically called,” he said. “There’s a process to follow where the first one who has a choice of taking the deer home and having it for dinner is the driver of the vehicle. The second person is anyone else in the vehicle. If that doesn’t work we have a deer call list, or anyone driving by in a pickup truck can pick it up so they don’t go to waste.”
Mr. Manter suggested contacting the other towns about possibly pitching in to refurbish the out-of-use MSPCA crematorium for carcasses that were too old or mangled for repurposing.
“It’s an Island-wide issue,” he said.
In other Mass Highway news, selectmen foresee trouble down the road, specifically at the North Tisbury bridge. There, wooden railings have taken a beating from wayward cars and wide loads and Mass Highway has said they will provide a temporary fix in the next week and go out to bid in the spring for a contract for permanent guardrails.
“That means steel,” said Ms. Rand.
“Wait a minute, wait a minute,” said Mr. Manter. “Not on my watch.”
Ms. Rand said the state did offer to put up “rustic guardrails” that were still steel, but that the town had no say in replacing the wooden ones.
“They said frankly we’re sick to death of replacing the wood and it gets broken all the time and it’s not safe and we’re putting steel up.”
“Well I don’t like it,” said Mr. Manter. “The steel’s going to get mangled and dented too.”
Selectmen said they would review the so-called rustic guardrails.
Selectmen also approved opening the commercial oyster season on Oct. 30. Shellfishermen may fish three out of the five weekdays and are limited to two bushels a day and no more than six per week.
Selectmen also appointed Matthew Merry to the planning board.