Hundreds of Protestors Gather at “No Cull” Rally in East Hampton to Protest Government Plan to Kill Deer

Posted on 22 January 2014

Protest organizers concert promoter Ron Delsener and East Hampton Group for Wildlife founder Bill Crain at the "No Cull" rally in East Hampton Village Saturday, January 17. (Michael Heller photo).

Protest organizers, concert promoter Ron Delsener and East Hampton Group for Wildlife founder Bill Crain, adress the crowd at the “No Cull” rally in East Hampton Village Saturday, January 17. (Michael Heller photo).

By Tessa Raebeck

Some three hundred people gathered in East Hampton Saturday in opposition to the village’s plan to bring federal sharpshooters in to cull the deer herd. Hunters and wildlife activists joined together at the “No Cull” rally, organized by the East Hampton Group for Wildlife and supported by hunting organizations like Hunters for Deer and Long Island Archers.

Chanting “What do we want? Stop the cull? When do we want it? Now!” demonstrators, some who had driven hours to reach the village, marched from the Hook Mill in East Hampton to Herrick Park.

East Hampton Village and Southold Town have agreed to a Long Island Farm Bureau (LIFB) program that would bring USDA sharpshooters to the East End to cull the deer herd, which many local residents and farmers say is overpopulated and destructive. LIFB executive director Joe Gergela estimates 1,500 to 2,000 deer would be killed during the 40-day cull.

The state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has not yet issued a permit for the cull (see sidebar).

Proponents of the plan say the deer population, with no natural predators, has outgrown the available food supply and natural environment on the East End. Deer, they say, create hazardous conditions on roads, carry tick-borne illnesses like Lyme disease and negatively impact the local agriculture industry.

East Hampton Town agreed to the program in December under the last administration, but new town supervisor Larry Cantwell said last week he is unsure whether the town will still take part.

The program is funded by a $200,000 state grant LIFB received for deer management and would be one of the largest removals of deer ever undertaken by the government.

The hundreds who gathered Saturday are calling on the LIFB to stop the cull and for all municipalities to withdraw their support. East Hampton Village has committed $15,000 to the farm bureau and Southold Town has pledged $25,000. Those funds support sharpshooters coming into public lands, but the cull can continue on private land without official support from local governments.

In December, The Group for Wildlife, along with 13 individual plaintiffs and the Evelyn Alexander Wildlife Rescue Center in Hampton Bays, filed suit against East Hampton town, village and the town trustees.

“We’re going to sue each and every town or village that even thinks about entering into this plan,” Wendy Chamberlain, a Bridgehampton resident who helped organize the rally, told the crowd Saturday.

“It gets better,” she added, “We’re also going to sue the heinous USDA!”

Despite the uncommon collaboration of hunters and animal rights advocates, the rally was peaceful aside from one disruption, when concert promoter Ron Delsener shouted at East Hampton school board member Patricia Hope.

Hope was passing out flyers supporting immuno-contraception as a more peaceful way to cull the herd than the “wholesale slaughter of does and fawns” when Delsener, who has a house in East Hampton and is funding the anti-cull lawsuit, yelled, “This lady wants to kill the deer!”

“I don’t want to kill the deer,” Hope replied, moving away from Delsener.

Group for Wildlife founder and Montauk resident Bill Crain encouraged the crowd to write letters and call their government officials to “let them know we will not stand for this.”

“They don’t have a chance of re-election if they are going to pursue this barbaric, murderous slaughter,” Crain said.

Many protestors dressed in hunting gear and held signs with slogans like, “Cull the board not the herd,” “Slaughter, savagery, stupidity,” and “Deer epidemic NOT proven.”

One sign said, “Are the swans next?” referring to the Department of Environmental Conservation’s (DEC) new proposal to kill or capture all mute swans by 2025. Another had a photo of fawns and the words, “Are you going to kill my mommy?”

“They don’t deserve to die,” Sag Harbor’s Anne Plucis shouted to passing drivers, “They’re not the reason for this.”

Plucis said mice and rats are to blame for the prevalence of tick-borne illnesses, not deer.

Mike Tessitore, a former Sag Harbor Village policeman who is a member of Hunters for Deer, called the proposed plan “a slap in the face to the community, as well as the hunters on Long Island and in New York State.”

“If hunters were given the same opportunity as USDA in killing deer they would be successful,” said Tessitore.

The LIFB has said all meat would go to Long Island Harvest to be processed and sent to food banks, but with a cost of $50 to $80 to process each corpse, many of the cull’s opponents are skeptical the meat will be properly used.

Tessitore called the plan “$250,000 to $500,000 to throw deer in dumpsters.”

“Hunters,” he added, “actually use the meat to provide for their family and friends – and we do it for free.”

Local residents remain divided on whether or not the federal sharpshooters should be welcomed. Usually allied, many farmers and hunters are on different sides. Some wildlife advocates favor culling the herd, saying deer overpopulation negatively affects the habitats of other animals and that being shot is more humane than starving to death.

Those wildlife activists opposed to the cull, however, were in clear view Saturday.

Calling the plan “cruel and inhumane,” ARF co-founder Sony Schotland said immunization worked to control the population in several other areas. East Hampton resident Brooke Spencer circulated a petition against the cull through the crowd.

“I’m here,” East Hampton resident Elizabeth Mensch said, “because I just think this whole situation is extremely unethical and inhumane. I believe they have every right to be here and we have no right to say if something dies or lives.”

K.K. Shapiro, Mensch’s longtime friend and former classmate in East Hampton, added, “If you really have a problem with wildlife, move to the city.”

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- who has written 452 posts on The Sag Harbor Express.

Arts Editor and Education Reporter for the Sag Harbor Express. Covering the East End with a focus on arts, education and the police blotter. Twitter: @TessaRaebeck

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7 Responses to “Hundreds of Protestors Gather at “No Cull” Rally in East Hampton to Protest Government Plan to Kill Deer”

  1. Crispin Fordham says:

    you cannot keep on building new houses, taking away all the natural habitat from the deer and then go on the baricades and say “no don’t kill them”.In Europe, espcially where I live (the Baltic Sea Coast) we have an immense amount of space for all sorts of wild animal, deer, hogs, wolves elchs usw, but the Hunters have to “Thin out ” the population every year…… by the way ,Venison tastes great and is a speciality here!!, that would be a “Special” for dela femina!! was a one time resident in EH!

  2. Old Timer says:

    ROTFLMAO!

    This is all too funny, and totally amusing! All these PETA types and tree huggers are screaming like banshees now. In reality they caused most of the problem, weather they moved out here 4 years ago or 40. They came out here and bought up all the property, because this was truly ‘God’s Country’ back then.Having an East End Zip Code became the ultimate status symbol for the elite.

    So what happened? Huge tracts of woodland were destroyed. I’m not just talking about 5 acre MacMansions. For every house built, hunting zones were decreased by at least 500 feet in every direction from the actual structure. Those who purchased large tracts of land immediately put up “No Hunting” signs on nearly every tree. Most of North Haven was transformed into a virtual enclave for the uber-rich, some of whom illegally fed the deer so as to enjoy the ‘bucolic ambiance’ of having those ‘beautiful creatures’ a few feet from their back doors.

    During the great depression, hundreds if not thousands of East End families survived on seafood and wild game. Venison was a large part of that diet. There was no deer hunting season back then but there was only one game warden on the East End, and he couldn’t be everywhere at once. Fact is, he most likely turned a blind eye to what he knew was happening. My Grandpa said most families killed a minimum of several deer during the late fall and winter months. The deer population never got out of control, because it was never allowed to! As with all wild game,venison is some of the healthiest meat you can consume.

    So let’s take a look at some of the more nescient comments in the above article, shall we?

    [“We’re going to sue each and every town or village that even thinks about entering into this plan,” Wendy Chamberlain, a Bridgehampton resident who helped organize the rally, told the crowd Saturday.]

    “It gets better,” she added, “We’re also going to sue the heinous USDA!”

    Wow! I wonder how far back Wendy can trace her roots in Bridgehampton. Sue the USDA? I though her ilk loved ALL government agencies?

    [“They don’t deserve to die,” Sag Harbor’s Anne Plucis shouted to passing drivers, “They’re not the reason for this.”]

    Plucis said mice and rats are to blame for the prevalence of tick-borne illnesses, not deer.

    I would ask Ms.Plucis how many ticks a mouse or rat can sustain,(or any small mammal) before those ticks drain the host of blood? Conversely, how many ticks can a 200 pound deer sustain? Does Ms.Plucis think that deer ticks migrated from Lyme Connecticut on the backs of mice and rats? Besides, Lyme disease is passe now. Wait till she gets bit by a Lone Star Tick and contracts the Alpha Gal allergy. No more mammal flesh for you Ms. Plucis!

    Trying to spin the ‘Hunter Support’ angle on this is disingenuous at the very least. Of course local hunters don’t want to see government outsiders come in an cull local resources. That being said, how many of the ‘bleeding hearts’ who attended this rally would allow a local bow hunter to put up a tree stand on their property? How many of those same people who own multiple acres would allow a shotgun hunter to do the same? My guess? Not too many! Why? Because the vast majority of these people think that the answer to this very serious problem is a contraception program. They also think that another option is to lower the speed limits. They won’t be happy until no one can drive over 20 MPH on Eastern Long Island!

    Here’s the deal people! It’s no longer a question of weather or not the deer have a right to be in your back yard! It’s no longer a question of who was here first! It’s no longer a question of tick borne illnesses,(http://www.cdc.gov/ticks/diseases/). It’s no longer a question of why you can’t have a garden in your yard, or have to buy DEET by the case. I live less than 100 feet from Madison St.and 3 blocks from the foot of the Main St. business district. A month ago, I confronted a deer walking down the sidewalk in front of my house just after dark. She looked at me as if to say, “What’s your problem a$$hole?” 3 days ago,again just after dark on Howard St. while returning from 7-11, two deer were walking down the middle of the road just as happy as you please! They were quite upset that I wanted them to get out of my way! They were so close,I could have shot both of them out of my car window with a pistol. Sorry people! This is not normal, and deer should not be walking around downtown Sag Harbor with impunity! If you’re a religious person, check out Genesis 1:28:

    Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”

    Short translation? We’re at the top of the food chain, and we get to decide! If you’re not of the faith, (Liberal-Progressive)find a better argument to support your position.

    Bottom line? I could care less what happens. I don’t hunt anymore, but I’ve killed more deer than most people could imagine. Thin sliced venison heart sauteed in butter and onions is “To Die For!” Like my handle says, I’m an “old Timer”! Nothing that happens going forward is going to make that much of a difference to me. Too bad most of you will never know what it was really like to live on Eastern Long Island from say 1920 to 1970?

    One more thing. If you can not go to a local cemetery and find at least one of your grandparents buried there, you are not a local! If you’ve come here in the last 50 to 75 years, you can claim that you are a true son. All others have no legitimate status as indigenous peoples. I can say that, since I can trace my roots back to the founding fathers of Sag Harbor in the 1600′s.

    As for the deer? I’m sure the town fathers will soon start making rules and regulations that make sure citizens become subservient to the needs of the ubiquitous ungulate population? After all, wouldn’t that be the ‘humane’ thing to do?

  3. We cant carry on like this, something needs to change. Does not matter how much we argue about why we should keep knocking down trees or why we shouldn’t. The main conversation should be how we are going to look into something else that can be done to improve on both cases homes for us and the wildlife. They have the right to be here too.

  4. Virginia Frati says:

    Where do you think the ticks will go if there are less deer? Oh yeah -on you and your pets.

    Regarding deer damaging crops, a farmer upstate once told me “a good farmer plants extra to account for wildlife feeding on his crops.” As such, Long Island and the Farm Bureau is the laughing stock of New York State.

    Deer/auto collisions? Use deer whistles on your car and watch the sides of the road for movement. This may save your life as well since other cars and people also dart out in front of vehicles. I’ve been commuting 70 miles round trip on the east end of Long Island for over 30 years and I have never hit one. If I did, I certainly would not blame the deer.

    Two studies did NOT show that there was an over population of deer. Rather, the USDA claims “studies are helpful, but efficacy of the deer management project will need to be measured by public opinion…” Are they kidding me? We are going to use public opinion rather than scientific evidence?

    Quoting the bible about how we are have dominion over all species is a bunch of hogwash in this day and age. Everyone knows that it is humans that are destroying this planet and all wildlife habitats. There is no overpopulation of deer; there is only less habitat for them to retreat to, making them more visible.

    Too many people are against this! Environmental impact studies have not been done! Why are our government agencies bowing down to a select group of farmers? This is a disgrace, and the people that have anything to do with this plan are going to have to face a higher authority.

  5. Barbara Manning says:

    If protesters can gather 300 people to demonstrate, perhaps they can gather a few more for a “Reindeer Roundup”. If the deer can be corralled so that the males can be neutered, then gently and over time the deer population will decrease. It doesn’t have to be done all at once or island wide. Find the optimum number of people willing to volunteer for a walk in the woods, carve out a section, walk in a line to “herd” the deer towards the pen, neuter the males. I know it’s much more difficult that what I’ve outlined here, but it would surely use up the energies of protesters in a positive way. And we wouldn’t have to feel quite so bad about destroying animals that, like us, are simply trying to live a reasonable life.

  6. Jason says:

    I really hope the above post is a joke. You could have 5000 people “take a walk in the woods” and I guarantee you would never herd a single deer into a pen. I’m not for these “sharpshooters”, but that was just silly.

  7. Barbara Manning says:

    It’s not a joke. And I’m not talking about 5,000 people wandering around in the woods. It’s working in a wide variety of situations. From Maryland’s Wildlife Rescue Inc: “Our ongoing success continues to confirm both a significant reduction in fawns and a stabilization of the doe population without a major influx of new deer. This also shows a lower deer population can be achieved in a humane manner without killing any deer.” See http://www.wildliferescueinc.org/
    See also http://www.deerfriendly.com/deer-population-control and read under the heading Deer Spay and Neuter. It seems to me that we could use the money to support local businesses (the vets in particular) and pay the local hunters to dart the deer in preparation for sterilization. According to these reports, the sparyed does continue to defend their territory, so there is no new population influx.


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