North Haven Village Eyes Comprehensive Deer Management Plan

Posted on 08 January 2013

By Kathryn G. Menu

In the wake of the burgeoning deer population and concerns over tick borne illnesses, the North Haven Village Board of Trustees is actively seeking to create a Village Deer Management Committee. On December 17, trustee Jeff Sander sent out a letter to homeowner associations in an effort to build a working group prior to the committee’s inaugural meeting on January 29.

In his letter, Sander notes that deer management has been at the forefront of conversations in front of the village board as of late.

“Of most concern,” he writes, “have been the health risks of diseases that are transmitted from ticks that use the deer as hosts to feed or multiply. The village has been active in controlling the deer population through its seasonal hunting program which has been successful in the past in reducing the herd. Recently, Shelter Island has implemented a program to treat deer with a powerful tickicide administered from a feeding station. Results of this program have shown a reduction in ticks.”

Sander notes there is not only a lot of information on deer management available on the state level, but also from other communities that have had to combat growing deer populations. However, the entire community will need to be involved, said Sander, for North Haven to come up with the right kind of comprehensive plan to address the issue posed by the deer population in the village.

Last Thursday, January 3, at the North Haven Village Board meeting, village attorney Anthony Tohill presented the board with a number of different deer management plans other municipalities have adopted, according to Georgia Welch, village clerk.

That information will also be presented to the deer management committee to digest. The village is also looking towards conducting an aerial survey of the deer herd in North Haven some time in January or February in order to have an accurate estimate of the herd’s numbers.

According to Welch, in this deer hunting season in North Haven, a total of 55 deer have been culled from the herd.

New York State Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele, Jr. and New York State Senator Ken LaValle hosted a seminar on deer management for town and village officials earlier this month. According to Thiele, the need for this kind of meeting became apparent after an East End Mayors and Supervisors meeting this fall. With the approval of a New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) deer management plan and the Town of East Hampton looking to put together its own formal plan, Thiele said the goal of the seminar was to discuss legislative options open to the East End.

According to Thiele, the DEC has made four legislative recommendations it would like to see the state legislature adopt. First, is reducing the bow  hunting setback to buildings from 500 feet to 150 feet in an effort to increase the areas bow hunters can actually hunt.

Thiele said the DEC report notes New York has one of the most restrictive setbacks for bow hunting in the Northeast.

Other recommendations include expanding bow hunting in January and to allow for Saturday and Sunday hunting during that part of the hunting season.

Requiring only a DEC permit to hunt, and not a second town permit, is also recommended by the DEC.

“There was certainly consensus there is a problem with deer and it is reaching crisis proportions and there has to be a comprehensive plan, and one part of that is allowing more deer to be taken through recreational hunting,” said Thiele.

He added no legislation has been drafted to implement the DEC regulations, but that he and LaValle agreed to put together a draft bill for the East End towns allowing home rule to adopt whatever provisions within those recommendations they want in their community.

“The other thing about making this local is the five towns will not be able to adopt these local laws without a public hearing, so it gives the community the ability to be heard,” added Thiele, who said he expected to have a draft of the bill in two weeks time.

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