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May 6, 2014 11:01 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

Remsenburg Residents Consider Hiring Bow Hunters To Thin Deer Herd

May 7, 2014 9:09 AM

By a show of hands, most of the estimated 75 Remsenburg residents attending Sunday’s informational meeting regarding ways to control the deer population are willing to bring in bow hunters to do so.

At one point during the meeting, hosted by the Remsenburg Association and held at the Remsenburg-Speonk Elementary School, the organization’s president, Jim Mendelson, asked attendees to raise their hands if they would be open to permitting licensed bow hunters to help cull the hamlet’s deer.

Though no concrete figures were shared Sunday regarding the hamlet’s deer population—the State Department of Environmental Conservation does not keep such specific records, according to guest speaker and DEC deer biologist Josh Stiller—he explained that the proof of their overpopulation is in the jump in growth rates across Suffolk County.

Mr. Stiller said about 20 percent of the fawns tagged by his agency last year reproduced this year. He added that the jump in population has had detrimental effects on the environment and other animals, not to mention the increasing number of vehicle accidents caused by or involving deer.

The biologist also noted that while the number of deer is increasing exponentially each year, “there is no magic number” when it comes to reducing their figures to achieve a better balance. He said it is up to individual communities, and municipalities, to decide which course to take and if culling is the option they want to pursue.

There are non-lethal options also on the table and they include the fencing in of sensitive areas, using chemicals that deter deer from eating native plants, capturing and relocating deer, and even sterilization. He noted during his presentation that some of the options, namely sterilization, could be very costly; one chemical contraception, for example, could cost up to $3,000 per deer.

He added that the most cost-effective programs typically involve bow hunters, as they are often willing to thin the herds for free, usually taking the venison as payment.

Earlier this spring, sharpshooters hired by the Long Island Farm Bureau began thinning the herd of whitetail deer in Southampton Town, focusing their efforts on 20 undisclosed properties, according to a spokesperson for the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Those killings, however, are being done at night by teams of hunters using bait, night-vision equipment and high-powered rifles with silencers, according to authorities. Opposition to the Long Island Farm Bureau’s proposal halted consideration for a similar program in neighboring East Hampton Town and East Hampton Village. Private property owners, however, can still legally hunt the deer as long as they secure nuisance permits from the DEC first.

Mr. Mendelson, who describes himself as “fortunate” for not having a big deer problem on his land, said the Remsenburg Association has no official stance on deer culling. He said the group called for Sunday’s meeting after some members expressed concerns, stating that the overpopulation of deer is the “number-one” problem in the hamlet.

If homeowners decide to go down that path, bow hunters would be willing to thin the herd for free, according to Christian Killoran, president of the Island Hunting Exchange, who also attended Sunday’s meeting. He added that Quogue Village has had such a program in place for the better part of a decade, and that the deer are culled at no cost to homeowners.

“I would definitely support it,” said Michael O’Hare, whose property on Halsey Road has been damaged this year by deer, about a proposed cull. He added that this year alone, two deer have jumped over his fence and died on his property. “I’ve had problems with the landscaping, shrubs, trees, all of it.”

According to Mr. Killoran, once hamlet residents secure the necessary permits, he would assist them in contacting teams of bow hunters and coordinating logistics. “I know just by the amount of people here the amount of people who want something done,” he said.

This spring marks the eighth year in which Quogue Village has permitted a similar bow hunting program, according to Chris Osborne, the village’s code enforcement officer who also attended the meeting. He added that, in his opinion, the thinning effort in Quogue has been an “incredibly successful” program, noting that the venison is either taken by the hunter, given to the homeowner or donated to a food pantry. “Nothing is wasted,” Mr. Osborne said.

Mr. Osborne said that in their first year, there were about 100 “takes” by the deer hunters. The second year, between 100 and 125 deer were killed, and that number jumped to between 175 and 200 in the program’s third and fourth years. Fewer than 100 deer have been taken annually in the more recent hunts, he added. “That is a success,” he said, “not because of the lack of hunting, but because hunters are doing their jobs.”

He explained that individual landowners must fill out a permission form and turn it in to the village. They must also secure the permission of their neighbors before hunters are permitted on their private property. Looser restrictions this year, namely a reduction in how close a hunter is allowed to stand next to a neighboring property, is expected to make their jobs easier. Up until this year, bow hunters needed to keep at least a 500-foot buffer with a neighboring property; this year, they only have to keep a 150-foot buffer.

Mr. Osborne said the remaining deer population in Quogue Village seems healthier now that there are fewer deer competing for a limited amount of food.

Mr. Mendelson noted that the Remsenburg Association is serving as a point of contact for the bow hunters and individual homeowners in the hamlet.

“We don’t have the infrastructure as a hamlet to address this like the Village of Quogue,” he said. “We’re trying to act as the go-between and facilitate for people who want to do something.”

Mr. O’Hare said after the meeting that he would support such a program in his community.

“I’d like to see them come in and actually do something,” he said of the bow hunters.

Mr. Killoran noted that such a program could not begin until the fall, explaining that bow hunting season runs from October 1 until December 31. He said that will give interested homeowners plenty of time to file the necessary paperwork and hire hunters.

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Yes, please.
By double standard (1506), Remsenburg on May 6, 14 4:34 PM
150 foot buffer? That eliminates a lot of homes.
By double standard (1506), Remsenburg on May 6, 14 4:37 PM
Aye, there's the rub!
By Frank Wheeler (1826), Northampton on May 6, 14 4:46 PM
Private communities being proactive in deer management and at no cost to the taxpayer?... Good job Remsenburg. In the near future, hunting on Long Island will be viewed more as a management tool than a sport and hopefully the hunting regulations will reflect that.
By MichaelHunter (76), East Quogue, New York on May 6, 14 5:52 PM
1 member liked this comment
Sounds like at great idea at no cost to taxpayers. Way to go
By rchamb1203 (8), east northport on May 6, 14 6:26 PM
Does the Remsenburg Assoc have the authority to OK this or does it have to go through the town?
By But I'm a blank! (1283), Hampton Bays on May 6, 14 9:37 PM
It would be effectuated on private property in accordance with NYS hunting regulations and season dates.
By MichaelHunter (76), East Quogue, New York on May 6, 14 10:20 PM
Better than government swat teams in black with High power rifles and silencers roaming around our woods in the dead of night. We can take care of our own problems,

Now please leave and for good!
By Undocumented Democrat (2065), southampton on May 6, 14 10:21 PM
Talk about paranoia!
By Turkey Bridge (1979), Quiogue on May 7, 14 9:40 AM
Forgive my ignorance on the subject, but if you are hunting the deer on properties large enough to meet the buffer requirements (typically the larger homes south of S Country Rd) then don't you risk the deer migrating to safer areas? If that is the case, is it then probable that the deer issue could get worse for those of us north of S Country rd who do not have 150 feet of buffer between neighbors? Deer have already done a number on my property, and my kids have to dodge the waste piles when the ...more
By double standard (1506), Remsenburg on May 7, 14 8:09 AM
Bow hunting is the cruelest of all "sports". If Remsenburg residents approve this proposal, they and their children are likely to enjoy the unforgettable experience of watching a gentle creature, impaled by an inept "sportsman's" arrow, staggering to an agonizing slow death from blood loss.

Let us hope that more compassionate residents prevail and that any herd reduction is achieved by the humane means mentioned in the article.

The only positive note to this meeting is that ...more
By highhatsize (4217), East Quogue on May 7, 14 11:28 AM
I once asked a gazelle if he'd rather be killed and eaten by lions, hyenas or cheetahs. He thought for a moment and asked if I knew anyone with a crossbow and good aim.
By double standard (1506), Remsenburg on May 7, 14 12:07 PM
1 member liked this comment
Double standard - The hunter has to be 150' from a building to use his bow. That is not the minimum spacing between the houses.
By Baymen87 (135), Lugoff, SC on May 7, 14 3:20 PM
Still seems that you'd need a decent chunk of land to accommodate the buffer. I think the percentage of homes that will qualify will be small and isolated to the homes south of South Country rd. Don't know how that helps the overall problem in any significant way.
By double standard (1506), Remsenburg on May 7, 14 4:07 PM
Are you sure about that, Bay87? The article states:

"Up until this year, bow hunters needed to keep at least a 500-foot buffer with a neighboring property; this year, they only have to keep a 150-foot buffer."

By double standard (1506), Remsenburg on May 7, 14 4:17 PM
Meanwhile, in the Pine Barrens...deer are preparing to upgrade their living quarters in the new open areas in Quogue & Remsenburg. They laugh at Quogue Code Enforcement Officer Osbourne like everyone else does. Brilliant!
By G (342), Southampton on May 7, 14 3:46 PM