Tag Archive | "deer management"

Southampton Town Unveils Deer Management Plan

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By Mara Certic

Environmentalists, hunters and Southampton Town officials unveiled a deer protection and management plan at a town board work session last  week.

The town Department of Conservation and Environment and Department of Land Management worked with Longview Wildlife Partnership to draft the 28-page plan that was presented to the board on Thursday, November 6.

Longview Wildlife Partnership is a citizens group of hunters and deer preservation advocates who formed the organization last year in the wake of plans to have Federal Department of Agriculture Wildlife Services sharpshooters cull the deer herd on eastern Long Island.

“We’re trying to strike a balance between protection and management,” said Amy Pfeiffer, a planner with Southampton Town.

As a first step, the plan recommends the formation of a deer management advisory committee, which would include local elected officials, planners, hunters, farmers, environmentalists, preservationists and experts on tick-borne diseases.

The multi-pronged management plan recommends different ways of reducing deer herds, including hunting, sterilization and immuno-contraception plans, as well as suggestions for reducing the number of deer motor vehicle accidents and how to better educate the public about the animals.

One of the issues of deer management is the unreliability of deer census methodology. The shifting, moving nature of deer populations and large numbers of unrecorded deer deaths mean current methods still require further refinement, according to the study.

Southampton Town will work with local hunters through the Longview Wildlife Partnership to establish deer management units and possible additional hunting opportunities on town-owned land. The plan aims to provide three ways to  “legitimize the role that local hunters can play, especially where nuisance deer pose an issue,” it says.

The first is to increase the number of hunting opportunities and to manage hunter density, as long as safety measures and firearm and archery setbacks are followed.

The second would control the number of deer hunted each year by determining or changing hunting seasons, bag limits and also by designating the sex and age of deer taken. Bucks are often considered the more highly prized hunting trophy, but studies have shown restricting hunting to bucks only can in fact increase deer populations. Hunting does, on the other hand, could help to reduce the size of the herd.

Third, the plan suggests the issuance of deer management permits, which allow for larger deer harvest during regular hunting seasons.

A group called Hunters for Deer has purchased a large refrigeration unit for deer carcasses, in order to ensure the meat goes to good use. According to Ms. Pfeiffer, if hunters are called to someone’s property because of a deer nuisance issue, they can now keep the meat in their new refrigerator to safely store it until it is donated to one of several charitable organizations.

The town is also looking into sterilization and immuno-contraception programs in another effort to maintain deer populations. Both methods can be expensive, and immuno-contraception in deer is still evolving as a deer management tool and can only be carried out as part of a research program

“Immuno-contraception may be the only socially acceptable option in densely residentially developed areas and, therefore, may have some effectiveness as at least a short term solution in Southampton Town,” the plan reads.

The town also has looked into different geographical locations for 4-poster stations, which rub insecticide onto deer in an effort to mitigate tick-borne diseases in Southampton.

One of the more visible changes that could come to Southampton Town would be the installation of new, flashing deer crossing signs.

“This new sign would be lit and would be placed in an area that would be related to where we’re seeing deer motor vehicle accidents,” Ms. Pfeiffer said. Using police information about accidents and by studying deer patterns, the town has established 12 road areas where there are the highest numbers of deer-vehicle collisions.

Ms. Pfeiffer added that down the line, these signs could also have motion detectors, which would make the signs light up when deer are sensed nearby.

“It’s a really neat thing,” Ms. Pfeiffer added.

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

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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.”