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Mum’s the Word on Status of North Haven Deer Cull

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By Stephen J. Kotz

A veil of silence has fallen over North Haven, where village officials last month gave Mayor Jeffrey Sander the green light to negotiate a contract with a private firm to cull the deer herd.

Reached at home on Wednesday morning, Mr. Sander was decidedly tight-lipped.

“There is no status update other than what was discussed at the last meeting,” Mr. Sander said, apparently referring to a vote taken by the board on February 4 authorizing him to negotiate a contract with White Buffalo Inc., a Connecticut firm that specializes in controlling the white-tail deer population in suburban communities.

“I really can’t tell you anything other than that,” Mr. Sander said, when asked if he still expected to have the contract finalized in time to undertake the cull this spring.

Asked if he was not willing to talk because of concerns the village would face a lawsuit over its deer culling plans, Mr. Sander replied, “It’s not anything I’m going to talk about.”

Earlier this year, East Hampton town and village dropped out of a separate plan to cull their deer herds, one backed by the Long Island Farm Bureau that would bring in sharpshooters hired by the United States Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services, when they were sued by animal rights activists.

Last week, a lawsuit filed againsts Southold Town, by the Wildlife Preservation Coalition of Eastern Long Island, which consists of animal rights groups and hunters, was tossed out, allowing the deer cull to proceed in that town.

USDA sharpshooters have also reportedly been invited onto private property on South Fork residents as well.

This week, Wendy Chamberlin of the Wildlife Preservation Coalition, said her group was trying to obtain an injunction preventing the state Department of Environmental Conservation from issuing nuisance permits on Long Island until a scientific rationale is advanced for the deer cull.

“This isn’t being done scientifically. This is being done emotionally and anecdotally,” said Ms. Chamberlin, who said she would support hunting if other measures were inadequate to control the deer herd.

She said it was “shocking” for village officials to refuse to discuss the cull. “Officials who behave like this and do not attend to the opinions and desires of their constituents should resign,” she said.

Last month, Mr. Sander said he expected the village to spend about $15,000 this year to start the deer culling, and added that the process could take several years to complete. At that time he estimated that the village had about 200 to 250 deer and would like to reduce that number to approximately 100.

At Tuesday’s meeting, the board handled other routine business and did not discuss the deer situation at all. Mr. Sander said he comfortable declining to discuss a public project that involves the spending of tax money, the threat of lawsuits and an invitation to allow hunters to shoot deer with shotguns.

“Nope,” he said, when asked if he had any additional comments.