By Mara Certic
A temporary restraining order to prevent the issuance of new deer nuisance permits in North Haven has been lifted by Suffolk County Supreme Court Judge W. Gerard Asher in a ruling on Friday, September 12.
The Wildlife Preservation Coalition of Eastern Long Island (WPCELI) filed suit against the Village of North Haven last spring for a preliminary injunction to prevent the DEC from issuing nuisance permits on the East End, after hearing word of a proposed mass deer cull.
In March 2014, the Supreme Court issued a six-month temporary restraining order that prevented new permits from being issued. According to a press release issued by Wendy Chamberlin, president of WPCELI, the temporary restraining order “effectively, halted the Long Island Farm Bureau and United States Department of Agriculture, Wildlife Services’ planned 2013-2014 cull of, potentially, thousands of deer, which concluded this past spring.”
The WPCELI argued the planned 2013-2014 cull of 3,000 to 5,000 deer “was a substantial increase from previous years and that a cull of this size has not been properly evaluated or studied by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation,” according the release.
According to court records, the wildlife coalition asserted “the DEC’s recent issuance of DDPs involves significant departures from their established and accepted practices of doing so and asserts that a new evaluation of the need and scale of any deer cull program must be done.” They also said, according to the records, “the DEC does not follow its own guidelines.” The DEC countered that it does indeed follow its own guidelines and that there was not a significant departure from past years, noting there are only 12 applications currently pending before the DEC, and that those are for mostly farmland.
“WPCELI is confident that the court will find that DEC has not justified this unprecedented cull and will direct DEC to comply with the law before issuing more permits for the LIFB program,” Ms. Chamberlin said in the release.
According to North Haven Village Mayor Jeff Sander, the lifting of the temporary restraining order will not have much of an immediate impact on North Haven.
“It won’t affect the state-wide hunting season that starts on October 1,” Mr. Sander said on Wednesday morning. “The normal hunting season starts October 1 and goes through the end of the year. The nuisance deer hunting starts on January 1, so it will allow us to continue as we have for many years.”
The North Haven Village Board presented an update of its deer management plan at its regular meeting earlier this month. It discussed the possibility of adding a deer sterilization program as well as plans to plans to deploy in the spring 10 four-poster feeding systems, which apply insecticide to a feeding deer’s neck and shoulders.
The board also discussed a proposed law that would require all hunters in North Haven to apply for special hunting permits from the village, as well as a permit from the DEC. “We just want to be able to control what hunters are in North Haven, what areas they’re hunting in. And they’ll need that permit whether they’re hunting in the normal season starting next month or during January to March for the nuisance deer hunting,” Mr. Sander said.
Mr. Sander said during the village board meeting the primary focus is to reduce the herd. North Haven, however, has no plans to bring in professional firm White Buffalo for a deer cull this year, he added.
East Hampton Management Plan
Andrew Gaites of the Deer Management Committee gave a report at the East Hampton Town Board’s Tuesday morning work session this week and offered options and recommendations to the board.
According to Mr. Gaites, changes in bow-hunting setback laws created an additional 300 acres of town land that can be opened for bow-hunting this year. The law, signed by Governor Andrew Cuomo earlier this year, reduced mandatory setbacks from residences from 500 feet to 150 feet. There is also an additional 174 acres of town land now available for gun hunting as well, he said.
Mr. Gaites said he believes the New York State Parks Department is working to open up more land in Napeague and Montauk for hunting.
The committee did not recommend planning for a professional deer cull this winter, “mostly due to a lawsuit against the DEC and the USDA,” Mr. Gaites said. The committee did suggest the town consider allowing local hunters onto private land during certain hours, “possibly at other times of year using nuisance permits,” as well as the regular hunting season, Mr. Gaites said.
He also suggested the possibility of opening up two landfill sites to hunting on Wednesdays, when they are closed. Mr. Gaites said if this was possible, the properties would only be open on a limited basis and only to a select number of lottery winners. It was also recommended that deer accidents be better documented and that the board consider extending the gun season to include weekends.