Tag Archive | "DEC"

Oh Deer! East End Wildlife Groups Plan “No Cull” Rally for Saturday

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By Tessa Raebeck

Plans to unleash federal sharpshooters on the East End deer population have been met with bureaucratic setbacks and vocal opposition, but are moving forward nonetheless.

In coordination with the State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), the Long Island Farm Bureau (LIFB) plans to hire USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) sharpshooters to kill deer with high-powered rifles to cull the local herds.

In addition to carrying tick-borne illnesses, causing car accidents and adversely affecting other animal habitats, deer destroy an estimated $3 to $5 million worth of crops annually on the East End, according to Joe Gergela, LIFB executive director.

Gergela said the cull, which will be largely funded by a $200,000 state grant, aims to kill 1,500 to 2,000 deer. All processed meat will go to Island Harvest to feed the hungry on Long Island.

“We felt whatever we did with the grant should be for community as well as farming benefit,” Gergela said Wednesday, adding a cull is crucial to having a successful agricultural industry.

LIFB has asked that villages and towns who want the sharpshooters sign onto the program by committing $15,000 or $25,000, respectively.

The DEC has yet to reveal whether it will require a single permit for the program or make each municipality signing onto the program file individually. Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele, Jr. said Tuesday although many municipalities have expressed interest in joining the program, they don’t want the legal liability of having the permit in their name.

So far, East Hampton Village, Southold Town and the eastern part of Brookhaven Town have signed on.

North Haven Village opted out, but is pursuing its own organized cull.

Sagaponack Village’s participation is contingent on the participation of both East Hampton and Southampton towns.

Southampton Town has thus far stayed mute on the subject — which has been under public discussion since September. Calls to Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst were not returned as of press time.

The East Hampton Town Board, under the previous administration, adopted a deer management plan that included plans for a cull. On Tuesday, however, newly elected Supervisor Larry Cantwell said he was unsure if the town would, in fact, join the LIFB in this initiative.

“At the moment, it’s up in the air,” Cantwell said, adding he would like to see culling on a limited basis and there are advantages to participating, but the town’s decision will be based primarily on the opinions of its residents.

“To some extent,” said Cantwell, “this is happening fairly quickly in terms of building a community consensus moving forward.”

The East Hampton Group for the Wildlife, the Evelyn Alexander Wildlife Rescue Center of the Hamptons and 13 individuals have filed suit against East Hampton Town, East Hampton Village and the East Hampton Town Trustees.

The lawsuit asks for a temporary restraining order against the town’s deer management plan and specifically, any proposal that calls for an organized cull.

“The lawsuit,” Cantwell said, “is certainly a factor in the decision-making process about this.”

Critics contend little information has been provided to show the cull is truly necessary.

“Killing other beings as a way of solving the problem is abhorrent, unethical and monstrous to me,” said East Hampton Group for the Wildlife President Bill Crain. “These are living beings with families and social lives and emotions, so to kill them just seems like a moral outrage.”

“It’s not about animal cruelty and all the nonsense that the Bambi lovers are spouting,” Gergela said. “If they would sit down and listen to people, they would realize there are no practical solutions other than to hunt or to cull.”

A petition on change.org to stop the “stealth plan to brutally slaughter 5,000 East End deer” had garnered over 10,600 signatures as of press time. In addition to local residents, activists from as far away as Belgium have signed the petition, which calls for the “unethical, ‘quick-fix,’ non-science-based plan” to “immediately cease and desist.”

A rally in protest of the cull will be held Saturday, starting at 1 p.m. at the Hook Mill in East Hampton.

Gergela dismissed the opposition as a “vocal minority” of non-locals with “no vested interest other than they enjoy animals and they enjoy their peaceful weekend on Long Island.”

“That’s very nice,” he added, “but for those of us that live here, whether you’re a farmer or a general citizen that’s had an accident, that has Lyme Disease or whatever, everybody says to me, ‘You’re doing a great thing.’”

Local hunters have also expressed their opposition to the cull, arguing if state and local governments lessened hunting restrictions, they themselves could thin the deer population.

Terry Crowley, a lifelong Sagaponack resident whose family has been hunting on the East End for generations, called the cull “a little ridiculous.”

“They should just change a few laws so more deer can be killed,” Crowley said Tuesday.

Thiele is working on legislation that would implement the state deer management plan, which has a number of recommendations to increase hunting opportunities, including expanding the January season to include weekends and allow bow and arrow hunting.

Cantwell voiced his support of such legislation.

“I certainly want to work with the local hunters who want to take deer,” the supervisor said Tuesday, “because I do think that removing some deer from the population on an ongoing basis is necessary to control the population.”

DEC Releases Pesticide Pollution Prevention Strategy

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Late last month, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation released a draft pollution prevention strategy for pesticide use on Long Island.

The proposed Pesticide Pollution Prevention (P2) Strategy proposed five actions to reduce threats to water resources from existing pesticide-related sources and prevent potential contamination from new sources.

According to the DEC, the purpose of the P2 Strategy is to enhance the protection of Long Island’s groundwater and surface water resources from pesticide-related contamination and thus prevent potential adverse effects on human health while continuing to meet pest management needs of farms, residents and businesses.

The DEC developed the P2 Strategy in response to concerns over the detection of pesticides in the groundwater over time at various locations on Long Island.

The P2 Strategy would start with a DEC pesticide assessment including an evaluation of the chemicals’ location, frequency and concentration on Long Island, as well as their reported use, and prioritization for potential preventive measures and available alternatives.

The P2 Strategy also calls for convening a Technical Review and Advisory Committee (TRAC) by bringing together a diverse group of stakeholders involved in pest management and water quality protection on Long Island — state and local health departments and other governmental agencies, agricultural, commercial and other sectors that use pesticides, pesticide businesses, environmental groups, and academia — to partner with the DEC in implementing pest management pollution prevention measures.

Under the proposed P2 Strategy, the DEC would work to integrate pollution prevention measures including best management practices, water quality protection and enhanced monitoring of groundwater into pest management efforts.

In a press release issued last week, New York State Assemblyman Thiele encouraged anyone concerned with the health of Long Island’s groundwater resources to attend an April 3 public meeting on the proposal. That will be held at the Suffolk County Community College eastern campus in Riverhead from 7 to 9 p.m. with officials from the DEC available for queries from 6 to 7 p.m.

Through April 30 comments can also be emailed toLongIslandStrategy@gw.dec.state.ny.us or by fax to 518-402-9024. Comments can also be mailed to Scott Menrath, NYS Department of Environmental Conservation, Division of Materials Management, 625 Broadway, Albany, NY 12233.

“The East End of Long Island’s economy is dependent upon a healthy and productive environment,” said Thiele. “With Suffolk County being New York’s largest revenue-producing agricultural region, we need to ensure that our farms and vineyards can still produce economically sustainable crops yield. At the same time, we also need to preserve ground and surface water quality to help support our commercial and recreational fishing and shellfishing industries. We need workable solutions for managing pesticide use that won’t harm our economy or environment.”

For more information, please visit DEC’s website at


DEC Reopens Sag Harbor Shellfishing

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Approximately 490 acres of shellfish lands in Sag Harbor Cove, Town of Southampton, is re-opening for the harvest of shellfish, the state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) announced today. These areas were closed on April 26, after DEC’s Bureau of Marine Resources detected saxitoxin, a naturally occurring marine biotoxin that causes paralytic shellfish poisoning, in shellfish in Sag Harbor Cove.

Effective at sunrise on Friday, May 25 the biotoxin closure for shellfish (clams, mussels, oysters) is rescinded in all of the normally certified shellfish lands in Sag Harbor Cove, including upper Sag Harbor Cove. The biotoxin closure for carnivorous gastropods (conch, whelks, moon snails, etc.) is also rescinded for all of Sag Harbor Cove, including upper Sag Harbor Cove.

In addition, the DEC is rescinding the prohibition against taking carnivorous gastropods in Shinnecock Bay. Approximately 3,900 acres of underwater lands in western Shinnecock Bay was closed to the harvest of carnivorous gastropods on April 10. Effective at sunrise on Friday, May 25, the taking of carnivorous gastropods is permitted in all of Shinnecock Bay.

The decision to re-open these areas was based on the results of the DEC’s testing of shellfish samples and is consistent with the requirements of the National Shellfish Sanitation Program. DEC’s microbiology laboratory has tested more than 150 shellfish samples for biotoxin since March 2012.

East Hampton Fisherman Continue Quest to End Warrantless Search & Seizures by the DEC

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Following a request last month by a group of East Hampton baymen, acting New York State Inspector General Catherine Leahy Scott has begun investigating what some fishermen view as the illegal seizure of fish and shellfish by officers of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC).

However, the baymen’s attorney, Daniel G. Rodgers of Riverhead, said he has also asked the Inspector General’s office to investigate whether officers confiscating fish and shellfish related to cases and selling it, rather than finding a way to save it for trial, actually flies in the face of the agencies own laws.

On Monday, Rodgers — surrounded by the Lester family and fisherman Larry Keller — said he and his clients had met with investigators in the Inspector General’s office last Friday.

Rodgers’ clients have asked the state to investigate warrant-less searches and subsequent seizures of fish and shellfish by DEC officers who believe a fisherman has violated fishery law. It’s a decades-long practice they contend violates their Constitutional rights. In light of the fact that much of the seafood confiscated is sold by DEC officers to local fish markets or simply dumped off a vessel, Rodgers has also asked for a forensic audit of the proceeds of those sales. He’s also asked for the overall lose in revenue for local fisherman, particularly since some of the DEC’s cases against these individuals are later overturned.

Rodgers said because the seizures happen before any trial, and property is not returned or restitution provided to fishermen found innocent of Conservation Law violations, a full forensic inquiry by the state was necessary to restore public faith.

He has found support from local government leaders, including New York State Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele, Jr., and State Senators Ken LaValle and Lee Zeldin, who have drafted legislation that would eliminate the DEC’s ability to seize fish or equipment from fishermen without a warrant.

“The Investigator General’s Office is taking this very seriously,” said Rodgers. “And we are grateful for that.”

Rodgers said the DEC’s explanation for why they should be able to search property such as backyards, trucks and boats (though not inside  baymen’s homes, which are protected),  is because fish should be considered “mobile,” as in something that can get away and therefore enforcement rules need to be relaxed so DEC officers can do their jobs.

“Well, we call that Constitutional relaxation,” said Rodgers. “And everyone knows there is no such thing as Constitutional relaxation. It is a fixed document. You cannot relax the rules from one individual to another.”

Worse, said Rodgers, is he believes it is possible DEC officers are breaking their own laws by seizing fish and selling it rather than retaining it for trial.

“While DEC officials continually point to rules to search and seize properties, seemingly they do not follow the rules that require them to follow some minimal role in Constitutional restraint,” said Rodgers.

Rodgers cited New York State environmental law that specifically deals with the powers and duties of enforcement officers — the very section that gives officers the explicit authority to seize fish, shellfish, game or plumage without a warrant. In that section of law, Rodgers said it demands that if officers seize fish or shellfish without a warrant they must retain custody of that property until the determination of any prosecution in which it is being held for evidence.

“DEC officers have been violating their own rules by illegally converting that property of fisherman and paying [the department] with the proceeds,” said Rodgers. “Fisherman are getting ripped off, possibly in the many thousands of dollars.”

Rodgers said he immediately brought this to the attention of the Inspector General, and hopes it will be added to the overall investigation into the DEC’s regulation of East Hampton baymen.

“Part of the argument is, what is the alternative,” noted Rodgers. “If any officer attempts to confiscate fish, shellfish, lobsters or any other food fish how will they keep it for trial? Well, frankly, that is not my problem. If you are going to confiscate someone’s fish as evidence for trial in a criminal case, the law says you must keep it safe until a determination is made by court. That is called due process.”

Many baymen and fisherman, added Rodgers, have had to watch for years as their livelihood was seized, knowing it would be sold or thrown back into the water before their guilt was ever determined.

Two of Rodgers’ many clients, siblings Paul and Kelly Lester, had a case against them dismissed last summer by East Hampton Town Justice Lisa Rana. They were charged with possession of untagged fluke, for having fluke over the daily catch limit and for not having a permit to sell shellfish from a roadside stand in front of their Amagansett homes.

According to Rodgers, in that case the DEC came onto the Lester’s property without a warrant and seized the fish, selling it to a nearby fish market.

Despite attempts, no restitution for the $200 in fish has been offered by the DEC.

“A drunk driver has a vehicle seized if he has more than one conviction in New York State,” said Rodgers, a criminal defense attorney by trade. “A drunk driver has more due process rights in getting a vehicle back than a fisherman in trying to get back the fish they worked hard all day to catch.”

“That is how crazy this system is,” he added. “A drunk driver has more due process rights. They are entitled to a hearing, they are entitled to notice, they are entitled to a lawyer and are actually heard on whether or not their vehicle should be taken from them. The fishermen get squat, they get nothing and I think that is part of the inherent unfairness of this system.”

Image: Riverhead attorney Daniel Rodgers with a group of East Hampton baymen and fishermen on Monday evening. Rodgers is helping the group fight for the end of what they call illegal searches and seizures of their fish and shellfish.

Shellfishing Closed in Sag Harbor Cove After Toxin is Detected

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Photo courtesy of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.

Sag Harbor and Upper Sag Harbor Coves have been closed for the harvesting of shellfish until further notice. This news came after the state discovered a marine biotoxin in the coves last week. The toxin — saxitoxin — can cause paralytic shellfish poisoning.

On Thursday, April 26 The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) closed the 490 acres of the coves and their tributaries west of the Lance Corporal Jordan Haerter Veterans Memorial Bridge.

According to DEC officials, the decision to close the area to shellfishing came after the toxin was discovered in shellfish collected from a monitoring site in Sag Harbor Cove.

In addition to shellfish, residents are also prohibited from harvesting carnivorous gastropods like conch as those creatures feed on shellfish and may also have accumulated the toxin at levels that are hazardous to human health.

According to a spokesperson with the regional office of the DEC, Aphrodite Montalvo, the toxin discovered in Sag Harbor Cove is a neurotoxin produced by a naturally occurring algae such as Alexandrium, a marine dinoflagellate that is often attributed to the notorious red tide.

The species is most commonly found in environments with high nitrogen levels.

In the last year, both Peconic Baykeeper Kevin McAllister and Dr. Christopher Gobler, an associate professor at Stony Brook University’s School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences, have presented findings showing that the increased density of residential development across Long Island has spiked nitrogen levels in waters leading to both red and brown tides.

Earlier in April, DEC closed areas in western Shinnecock Bay as well as Northport Harbor and parts of Northport Bay for the harvesting of shellfish for the same reason. Those bodies of water remain closed.

According to Montalvo, the DEC will test shellfish in the coves sometime this week. Following guidelines from the National Shellfish Sanitation Program (NSSP), Montalvo said the DEC will need to produce three clean tests on shellfish in Sag Harbor Cove over a two week period before it can open the area to shellfish harvesting again.

Areas that have tested positive for toxins, added Montalvo, are sampled weekly by the DEC. Currently, said Montalvo, the DEC has 18 monitoring sites around Long Island set up each early spring before algae blooms are expected to occur. Those stations are tested weekly until the blooms decline, which usually happens in late June or early July depending on the temperature of the water.

The DEC also receives oyster samples from two aquaculture facilities for regular testing, said Montalvo.

For the many families raising oysters in Sag Harbor Cove, Montalvo said that during the closure residents should be mindful that shellfish that take in the algae can accumulate enough toxin in their flesh to be harmful if consumed with the potential to cause paralytic shellfish poisoning. However, she added that being filter feeders, once the algae bloom dissipates the shellfish will filter the toxin out of its flesh as it takes in clean water and will be safe for consumption over time.

In its news release last week, the DEC said it would re-open areas to shellfishing as soon as possible based on the results of further testing. For updates on the closure, call the DEC’s hotline at 444-0480 or contact the DEC’s main shellfishing office at 444-0475.

Town Aims to Increase Recycling Efforts

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By Claire Walla

Christine Fetten is developing a 15-year plan for waste reduction. As Southampton Town’s Director of Facilities Management, she’s been tasked to lead the effort to improve the long-term recycling system laid-out in the town’s overall Comprehensive Plan, which will span through 2025. And as part of this plan, she aims to track every pound of recyclable material that leaves this town, ensuring it all gets disposed of in the most environmentally sound way possible.

Overall, she said the Town of Southampton is recycling more than the national average, for which only an estimated 33 percent of households are actually reported to recycle. Of the residents who use the town’s transfer stations, Fetten said about 51 percent separate out recyclables from their rubbish.

However, she went on to explain that only 15 percent of Southampton Town residents actually use the town’s transfer stations. This is where enforcing recycling efforts can become tricky.

This is not to say 85 percent of the Town of Southampton is not recycling — Fetten made that clear. But, it does mean that 85 percent of town residents use private carters, and where those recyclables end up, Fetten said, is unknown at this point.

But this is just what Fetten aims to find out.

Southampton Town is required to draft a waste management plan by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC). The town initially set to work on this document in collaboration with environmental consultants from CDM (Camp Dresser & McKee) and Smith Associates, who recommended the town continue operating its transfer stations. (In addition to facilities in Hampton Bays, Westhampton and North Sea, there is also a smaller transfer station in Sag Harbor.)

However, part of continuing operations included one crucial caveat: “The DEC wants us to gain more information on what all of the town’s garbage is doing,” Fetten explained.

Thus, her department will begin issuing permits to commercial carters in an effort to begin tracking that information.

“We’re looking to obtain: tonnage collected, tonnage disposed of, ultimately tonnage recycled and the location of the receiving facilities and the routes,” Fetten continued.

By collecting this information, Fetten said the town will “Gain an idea of the recycling rates in all parts of the town.”

Currently, she said the town itself is making all efforts to dispose of waste products in ways that minimize their impact on the environment.

“We bring our co-mingled [garbage] to the town of Brookhaven,” Fetten explained. “Plastics are generally baled and loaded into a trailer for overseas transportation containment.”

She said paper is also baled and sent overseas, but the town receives money for these recyclables.

“Waste management is set up to be an enterprise account,” Fetten continued.

So, the fees associated with the sale of recyclable materials go toward running the town’s transfer stations. So does the sale of compost to commercial carters, which is $2 a yard when loaded on site, and $3 a yard when delivered by the town. (It’s free for residents.)

“In addition to being sustainable, we need to make sure we’re covering our costs.”

Fetten said the town sends recyclable materials (paper, cardboard and metal) to Gershow Recyclables in Nassau County; it sends e-waste (including computers, cellular phones and televisions) to e-Scrap Destruction up island; and it takes all other recyclable materials (including glass and plastic) to Brookhaven Town’s recycling facilities, where Fetten said they are reduced and reused.

However, not all materials that can be are currently recycled. Fetten said her department is looking into ways to properly dispose of batteries and Styrofoam. While rechargeable batteries can most often be returned to the store where they were purchased, at this point Fetten said alkaline batteries can only be chucked into green bags, which eventually end up at a landfill.

The same is true for Styrofoam.

“There’s no longer a recycling facility on Long Island for that,” she explained. “At least not that I know of. That’s why it goes in a green bag [used for generic trash].”

She said the town is looking into opportunities to ultimately bale these products and then sell the materials for market value.

In the end, while Fetten said the town will continue to explore the most cost-effective and environmentally sustainable recycling options, and will continue to explore newer recycling technologies, she said the overall message is tied to a much bigger picture.

According to statistics compiled by CDM & Smith Associates, individuals in the Town of Southampton generate an average of 4.43 pounds of waste materials a day. And with a year-round population of 60,000, which is estimated to climb to 180,000 in the summer months, Fetten said, “that’s a lot of waste!”

The ultimate goal is waste reduction, she continued. In part, this is contingent on state and federal governments, which have the power to introduce new technologies, like soy-based Styrofoam, which decomposes instead of being co-mingled with regular rubbish and tossed in a landfill.

But, on the local level, Fetten said the town needs to work on fostering sustainability goals and options. Not only encouraging residents to recycle, but teaching them how to cut-down on their waste from the get-go.

“There are so many different opportunities for the population to make choices” about the materials they use, Fetten continued. “That’s really the goal of our education and outreach program: To provide that information to the public.”

The public comment period on the town’s Waste Management Plan will be open through January 31. The public is invited to review the plan online or in the town clerk’s office, and submit comments.

Petrello Gets OK, Village Faces Lawsuit

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By Claire Walla

After a controversial demolition hearing and a submission of an unpopular initial building plan, members of the Sagaponack Village Architectural and Historic Review Board (AHRB) finally approved the blueprint for a two-story home submitted by Anthony and Cynthia Petrello. The board made its decision at a regularly scheduled AHRB meeting last Friday, October 21.

And while an OK from the AHRB is typically a relative green light for construction, this case faces another obstacle that may prevent this structure from being built as currently proposed.

As Village Clerk Rhodi Winchell explained it, Petrello’s building application was caught up in a change in regulation. Adopted by the board last spring, the village’s new Coastal Erosion Hazard (CEH) code requires structures on oceanfront properties to be built 125 feet landward of the crest of the properties oceanfront dune. This is about 30 feet back from where Petrello’s proposed his new house to sit.

Petrello has sued the village of Sagaponack over the issue, arguing that because his building plan was approved by the DEC in December of 2010 — before the CEH was adopted — his building plan should not have to conform to the new law.

However, Winchell explained, “they were not vested.”

Had some aspect of the proposed building actually been in the ground, she said Petrello would indeed have been exempted from CEH regulations.

At this point, she added, if Petrello’s suit is successful, then this current building plan — having already been approved by the AHRB — would be able to move forward as is.

Petrello’s architect, John Sprague, explained to the board on Friday that he and chief architect Lisa Zaloga tweaked the building’s exterior to address some of the concerns AHRB board members had shared at a previous meeting. He said the footprint has not changed, but designers took away the breakaway walls the AHRB took issue with, which exposes the actual pilings and the railings of the structure.

However, should Petrello lose the suit, his architects would have to go back to the drawing board. The CEH barrier would push the building back up into a triangular-shaped property, meaning the building’s footprint would have to shrink in order to fit.

Wild Turkeys May Make Thanksgiving Table

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web wild turkey

It has been more than a hundred years — some say two hundred years — since wild turkeys have been hunted on Long Island. That will change this Saturday when the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation opens its first turkey season here.

The hunt is the result of more than ten years of work re-introducing the fowl to state lands throughout Suffolk County — mostly on the East End. This Saturday, Barcelona Neck in Sag Harbor will be among the properties included in the five day limited local season.

“We’re trying to open up a hunting opportunity that hasn’t been here for a hundred years or more,” said DEC spokeswoman Aphrodite Montalvo.

In the mid 1990s, the state began re-introducing the birds locally, capturing mating pairs upstate. About 75 birds were eventually brought to Long Island and distributed at three locations, including Northwest woods.

Local woods and fields were once filled with the birds, but their population disappeared with the clearing of trees for cordwood and lumber and the creation of farms as the East End population grew. Express outdoors columnist Al Daniels, who grew up in East Hampton, knows of no one who had ever hunted wild turkeys here, but remembers hearing of them being on Gardiner’s Island.

The animals have been a common site throughout the area in the past five or six years, and The Sag Harbor Express started a Wild Turkey Watch feature when they began showing up in people’s back yards. Hikers frequently see them along woodland trails and even golfers at the Sag Harbor Golf Course on Barcelona Neck come across them eating and pecking their way across fairways, a phenomena that started just a few years ago.

Sag Harbor’s George Speckenbach remembers being stopped in traffic on his way to East Hampton on Route 114 near Swamp Road two years ago watching flocks of wild turkeys crossing the road.

“There were five or six waves of them, about 15 or 20 birds in each wave, flying from the ground to trees across the road,” recalled Speckenbach. “And even in the woods there were probably a hundred more.”

The numbers have gotten large enough — DEC officials estimate there are more than 3,000 turkeys on Long Island — to hold a shoot, but officials have no number in mind they would like to get the population down to, or even how many birds they expect to be killed this first go around.

“We just don’t know how successful this will be,” said Montalvo, “or what to expect.”

To gather data, the DEC is asking hunters to bring the harvested birds to the Ridge Hunter Check Station.

As the DEC gains experience in the first season or two, “some changes may be made to expand or improve the opportunity in the future,” the DEC said in a release.

Wild turkeys differ from the Butterball cousins in several weighs, not the least of which they are leaner and — for diners — tougher and gamier. Their diet leans toward eating nuts, berries and bugs, rather that the grain feed farm raised birds are fed.

While Southampton Town-owned lands will not be available for hunting turkeys, several parcels owned by East Hampton Town will, including about 100 acres off Town Line Road, 100 acres around the East Hampton Airport and the Buckskill Preserve off Route 114. Other state lands open for turkey hunting include the West Tiana Cooperative Area, the Westhampton Management Area and the David Sarnoff Pine Barrens Preserve.

The local season ends on Wednesday, November 25, just in time for hunters to bag their Thanksgiving dinner. Hunters are limited to one bird this season, of either sex, and may use shotgun or archery equipment. The shooting hours are from sunrise to sunset.

A Declining Deer Harvest in Recent Years

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Larry Penny, the East Hampton Town’s director of Natural Resources said that in 2006, the East Hampton Group for Wildlife did the first ever deer count for East Hampton Town. The group found there were 3,293 deer in the 69.7 square miles area of East Hampton. The number of deer harvested that year, according to the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), was 444. The following year, the number of deer harvested dropped to 390, with approximately five deer taken per square mile.

On Tuesday, the office of the Town Clerk of East Hampton, did a count of permits issued for access to town property for use of firearms for deer hunting. In their findings, it was reported in 2008, there were 92 permits issued for access to town property for use of firearms for deer hunting. This year, just two days into the season, 82 people have applied for these types of permits.

Aphrodite Montalvo, the Citizen Participation Specialist for the DEC, said the deer population in eastern Suffolk has actually declined over the past three years largely due to enhanced harvest of female deer, reduced natural food availability due to poor acorn production and severe winter weather. According to the DEC’s reports, the number of deer harvested in Southampton Town’s 142.2 square miles, was 462 in 2007 and 532 in 2006.

The DEC reports that there are roughly 4,000 to 6,000 deer on huntable land in Suffolk County. According to the DEC website, there were 850 bucks [deer with antlers] killed in Suffolk County in 2006 and a total of 2,357 deer killed overall. In 2007, however, those numbers were reduced and 2,159 deer were harvested overall and 781 bucks were harvested in the county.

For the 2008-2009 hunting season, there are approximately 360 residents in East Hampton with sporting licenses that include big game, such as deer, according to the DEC. And in Southampton Town, there are a total of 305 residents with sporting licenses.

“In areas open to hunting, the population of deer generally remains stable,” Mantavlo noted.