Tag Archive | "White Buffalo"

Wildlife Activists Discuss Alternatives to Sterilization

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Wild deer in the woods in Amagansett, N.Y. on June 23rd, 2015

A wild deer in the woods in Amagansett. Photo by Michael Heller.

By Mara Certic

The people of East Hampton are divided and conflicted about what to do with white-tailed deer. While many say that reducing the herd could lead to a decrease in the instances of Lyme disease and would slash the number of car accidents, the general consensus at a forum hosted by the East Hampton Group for Wildlife on Thursday was that the deer problem has been exaggerated and should be reevaluated.

Larry Penny, East Hampton Town’s former natural resources director, kicked off the evening by going through a slideshow of various wooded areas on the East End.

“The deer don’t actually eat the understory to the degree they say they do,” Mr. Penny explained, while pointing out particularly lush huckleberry and blueberry plants in a forest in East Hampton. “Trying to find somewhere without a lot of understory if really tough,” he said, “Nobody’s eating it around here right now,” he added.

Randy Parsons, a former East Hampton Town Board member, gave a brief presentation on 4-poster programs, which he described as “Frontline for deer.” The feeding stations, he explained, transfer permetherin onto the deer as they eat, killing the ticks that try to feed on them.

“I do think if you treat certain areas, for example Barcelona Neck, you could substantially reduce the tick population because the deer herd there probably live there,” he said. He said that there is money in the state budget for East Hampton to buy the bait stations, but it is still trying to raise private funds to cover the cost of the maintenance and operation of the 4-poster program.

The Group for Wildlife announced the forum soon after several deer, which were supposedly sterilized in East Hampton Village through a program run by the organization, While Buffalo, which works with municipalities to control wildlife populations,  died from complications giving birth. Much of the conversation at the forum centered on the controversial sterilization program and its alternatives.

Ellen Crain, an experienced pediatrician and the wife of Bill Crain, the wildlife group’s founder, went through some of the details of deer contraception which many say is safer than sterilization because it’s reversible, temporary and does not require surgical intervention.

Ilissa Meyer with the Equine Veterinarian’s Group, and Dr. Paul Hollander, a small animal vet, said that the village’s project was concerning because there did not seem to be sufficient follow up.

Dr. Tony DeNicola, president of White Buffalo, said over the phone this week that he personally travelled to the East End after sterilized doe number 57 died while trying to give birth to two stillborn fawns.

“We always follow animals for at least a week,” Mr. DeNicola said of the typical process following the ovarectomies the organization performs. “Because if they’re going to die, you’re going to see in that week that they have problems.

The body of the first tagged deer to die following a stillbirth this year, doe number 57, was taken to the town dump before anyone thought to have the state Department of Environmental Conservation perform a necropsy.

A sterilized deer that died in similar circumstances a few weeks ago was taken to be necropsied by the DEC almost two weeks ago. Representatives from the DEC did not provide any information about the results of the necropsy by the time of this paper’s publication.

While some wildlife activists have said that the ovarectomies likely caused the birth defects and eventual deaths, professionals say that they cannot understand how this surgery would have affected deer in this way.

Dr. Paul Curtis, a wildlife specialist in the Department of Natural Resources at Cornell University, said this week that he had been involved in dozens and dozens of deer sterilization programs and does not see the connection between the surgery and the deaths.

Dr. Curtis did point out that Long Island soil is low in selenium, and that selenium deficiencies can lead to high numbers of stillbirths in livestock and, possibly, deer.

Ginnie Frati, the executive director of the Evelyn Alexander Wildlife Rescue Center of the Hamptons, said over the phone this week that there is in fact a selenium deficiency here in the wild. Over the years, she said, the center has probably received about 10 calls over the years of stillbirths. In fact, she said, she saw an untagged deer running along Noyac Road a few weeks ago that appeared to be trying to give birth to a stillborn fawn.

“I personally wish they would leave the deer alone,” she added. “I think this is extreme and it’s very, very expensive.”




North Haven Hunting Injunction Lifted

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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.

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.