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Nov 26, 2013 9:48 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

Sagaponack Looks To Thin Deer Herd With Sharpshooters

Nov 26, 2013 4:29 PM

The Village of Sagaponack and some of its largest landowners are planning to join East Hampton Village in hiring federal government hunters to kill hundreds of deer in its fields to thin the size of the wild herd, which has become an expensive nuisance for farmers and residents.

The village last week approved spending up to $15,000 to pay for federal “sharpshooters” to kill hundreds of deer at night on village property, an effort that is also expected to be extended to land owned by several farmers in the village.

The plan for the hunt, which would take place in February and March, calls for teams of specially certified shooters working for the U.S. Department of Agriculture to use rifles, night-vision equipment and gun silencers to kill dozens of deer each night on property in the village. The carcasses of the deer would be collected and removed by the hunters each night and delivered to processors to be butchered for venison that could be donated to area food pantries.

A spokesperson for the USDA, Carol Bannerman, said that the hunters work in teams of three men: one with a gun, one acting as a spotter and the other a driver/assistant. All the hunters are USDA employees, and most are biologists or specialists and are given rigorous special safety and training on conducting the hunts, Ms. Bannerman said.

The culling effort must still win approval from the State Department of Environmental Conservation.

The discharging of rifles is illegal on Long Island for the general public, as is the use of night-vision scopes, bait and silencers for hunting—but the government hunters would be exempt from such limitations.

The Village of North Haven has conducted herd-thinning hunts twice in the last two decades, and East Hampton Village recently resolved to contract with the USDA hunters as well.

The hunts would be conducted from vehicles, stationary stands and possibly on horseback. The hunters will use piles of food, or bait, to attract deer within shooting range. The hunters will shoot only female deer so as not to upset local deer hunters by taking bucks prized as trophies.

“In general, when we do these types of operations, the first element is that the work be done safely, then humanely, and then effectively,” Ms. Bannerman said. “We have done this in a number of cities and suburban areas and national parks, and we have never had a public injury or accident. These are firearms experts, and safety is their primary goal, and then keeping the hunt as humane as possible.”

Nonetheless, the hunt is already drawing criticism from some residents. Wendy Chamberlain, a Bridgehampton resident who works as a wildlife rehabilitator, said that the hunts will result in “unbelievable carnage” and should be a concern for area residents regardless of the safety precautions.

“The idea that they’re going to be driving around in these neighborhoods at night is terrifying,” she said. “The margin of error is zero, and the potential for an accident is high.”

Ms. Chamberlain, who attended a meeting of USDA hunters and Sagaponack landowners last week, said the hunters also referred to using large nets to capture a group of deer and then execute them at close range.

Ms. Chamberlain said that wildlife biologists from Tufts University are in the final stages of drafting a comprehensive plan for municipalities and land owners to thin deer herds more humanely than hunts. She called the use of “USDA hit squads” ineffective and inhumane, regardless of the quickness of the kills.

But farmers say that the damage reaped on their crops has taken a substantial bite, literally, out of already narrow profit margins.

“It’s gotten to the point where if you don’t have a deer fence around a crop, it’s almost impossible to make a profit,” farmer Dean Foster, whose mother is the village’s deputy mayor, said while driving a tractor through one of his fields this week. “It used to be they would eat around the outside of the corn field, and you’d have some loss but nothing too bad. Now, they’re living inside the corn, and I get in my combine and say, ‘Where did it go?’ I’ve got four of them in front of me right now. They’re not scared of us anymore. They’re like rats.”

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... would it be easier to use drones?
By William Rodney (561), southampton on Nov 26, 13 10:30 AM
1 member liked this comment
They're all working at Wal-Mart.
By Funbeer (273), Southampton on Nov 27, 13 1:08 AM
'Bout time! Nothing else has worked. They are out of control and exploding in population like rats. The Farmers need a break, and so do many drivers who have collisions and expensive damage to their cars. Bring on the Hit Men!
By SisBoomBonacker (106), Hamptons on Nov 26, 13 10:59 AM
3 members liked this comment
This would explain the USDA purchase of 320,000 rounds of .40 caliber hollow-point ammo.
By loading... (601), quiogue on Nov 26, 13 10:59 AM
Nope! Than .40 caliber ammunition is handgun specific, and would be deployed again the bunny-huggers and PETA-terrorists when the assault the hunting teams.
By Frank Wheeler (1826), Northampton on Nov 27, 13 10:17 AM
Sounds like an accident waiting to happen. Perfect record so far for no injuries. Hmmmm.

Also Farmer Foster might want to check on his mother, as he is quoted: "Dean Foster, whose mother is on the village’s deputy mayor . . .

Oh deer!
By PBR (4956), Southampton on Nov 26, 13 11:32 AM
1 member liked this comment
Yikes! Fixed.
By Joseph Shaw, Executive Editor (206), Hampton Bays on Nov 26, 13 1:17 PM
1 member liked this comment
Yeah, they are going to do that also to the deer in EH. :)
By PBR (4956), Southampton on Nov 26, 13 1:34 PM
I dont understand why people move out here when this is the deer and thousands of other wildlife's environment. Dont move out here if you want wildlife exterminated. Back in the day this 'country living' is what first attracted people to move out here. We have to ruin the Hamptons too?
By 27East Realty (18), HAMPTON BAYS on Nov 26, 13 2:08 PM
The problem isn't there are deer among us, it's that there are too many deer among us. The reason for this is because their natural predators were driven away (by man) including coyote, wolves and bears. Couple that with a bounty of food during the summer (thanks to our landscaping) and you have a population that has swelled well beyond anything that would have occured without humans settling the area.

The deer population situation is so bad that many deer actually die of starvation during ...more
By Nature (2966), Hampton Bays on Nov 26, 13 3:06 PM
It's mainly because it's easier to blame the deer, than blame themselves for usurping and destroying the natural habitat the wildlife once lived in.
By Mr. Z (11847), North Sea on Nov 26, 13 3:37 PM
Except that there isn't the call for wholesame extermination of said species from the area. Again, I don't support the proposed but it's clear that regular culling needs to occur. That or shoot them with birth control.

Z - I'm sure you would be happy to join me in the contemplation of what it means to be a cog in the wheel that is nature. Humans (Homo sapiens) are just as "natural" as the birds and the bees, it just happens to be that we are more advanced which has led to ascension up ...more
By Nature (2966), Hampton Bays on Nov 26, 13 3:56 PM
Though we have become the dominant species on the planet, we really are the only one which does not exist harmoniously with nature, and within our environment.

As a species, we've overdeveloped, polluted, and poisoned this planet.

The deer are not the nuisance. We are.
By Mr. Z (11847), North Sea on Nov 26, 13 11:00 PM
We probably said the same about dinosaurs at one point until they were wiped out... maybe the deer are holding out for the same?
By Nature (2966), Hampton Bays on Nov 27, 13 9:32 AM
Just don't shoot no roosters...
By V.Tomanoku (790), southampton on Nov 26, 13 3:42 PM
3 members liked this comment
Can we do the same from May thru September for all the Hamptonites that cause congestion, cause accidents and ruin natural habitat with their weekend homes? If deer had their natural woods like they used to, they wouldn't be in peoples yards, etc.
By fbb1013 (3), Eastport on Nov 26, 13 3:44 PM
3 members liked this comment
If they had the natural predators they wouldn't be in people's yards. But hey, things change... the population needs culling.
By Nature (2966), Hampton Bays on Nov 26, 13 3:58 PM
Only population that needs culling is the weekend warriors. Allow normal hunters, guys who pay $60-100 annually for their licenses in NYS and actually eat the deer to feed their families. I understand the meat will be going to good causes, but plenty of us LI hunters donate meat to charity when we can. Instead of a mass suicide of deer, allow access for us normal guys to help out and do it naturally.
By fbb1013 (3), Eastport on Nov 26, 13 4:03 PM
The argument is that "normal hunters" shouldn't be allowed to use guns because of the obvious dangers, hence the "sharp-shooters" but there is plenty of reason to believe that the "sharp-shooters" aren't impervious to mistakes (this aint Seal Team 6 they are calling in folks).

While deer hunting is allowed with bow and arrow, the biggest problem is that the deer needing to be culled are in the residential areas where hunting of any kind (and by anyone) is inherently dangerous
By Nature (2966), Hampton Bays on Nov 26, 13 4:10 PM
If they work for the gov't, I'm not sure how "sharp" they will be.
By dnice (2346), Hampton Bays on Nov 26, 13 3:57 PM
I have some antlers that would just look great on you.
By dnice (2346), Hampton Bays on Nov 27, 13 3:31 PM
When Mayor Epley suggested bow and arrow deer hunting in Southampton Village a few years back, one recalls a similar suggestion for his Halloween costume.

Is this correspondent the only one to experience discomfort with this re-assurance from the USDA?

" . . . and we have never had a public injury or accident . . . "

Will they be giving public notice of the days/nights and times for the operation?
By PBR (4956), Southampton on Nov 27, 13 6:41 PM
Has the Village of Sagaponack given proper consideration to the Compensatory Rebound Effect of herd slaughters like this? It is suggested that a mass slaughter actually INCREASES reproduction rates, resulting in a BIGGER problem 1-3 years out.

"Be careful what you ask for, or you will surely get it?"
By PBR (4956), Southampton on Nov 27, 13 6:45 PM
1 member liked this comment
Biologists + rifles = sharpshooters? The fact is that the NYS DEC took away all nuisance permits from farmers and the Villages on Long Island because the rednecks upstate were jealous. I guess this government program is why the DEC decided to end the nuisance program on LI. The Village of North Haven culled plenty of deer over the years, that made it to the dinner tables of local nuisance hunters, utilizing the nuisance program. This year, NH and the DEC agreed to make the area open to all hunters ...more
By theprogram (37), east quogue on Nov 26, 13 6:35 PM
2 members liked this comment
Hopefully Southampton allows the same for Noyac and North Sea.
By auntof9 (159), Southampton on Nov 26, 13 9:39 PM
2 members liked this comment
USDA sharpshooters from the Feds? That should be interesting. I'm sure local window and glass replacement companies are looking forward to this.
By G (342), Southampton on Nov 26, 13 9:43 PM
1 member liked this comment
Yea, if this thing was open to everyone I'd get a semi-automatic, or something, and just go off in my driveway...Ever come home at night and almost it a deer in your driveway?
Nov 26, 13 10:30 PM appended by V.Tomanoku
"hit a deer"
By V.Tomanoku (790), southampton on Nov 26, 13 10:30 PM
Farmers don't mind losing crops to developers, but Whoa, Pardner, can't let that deer have a nibble, no sirreeee...
By Funbeer (273), Southampton on Nov 27, 13 1:06 AM
Ha, so true.
By dnice (2346), Hampton Bays on Nov 27, 13 8:41 AM
The deer do not have as much $ as Michael Davis
By Erin 27 E (1281), southampton on Nov 29, 13 3:35 PM
1 member liked this comment
Wasn't it a few years ago when a biologist went to euthanize a sick whale he missed with his gun. I recall a lost lethal dart floating around the shoreline and police divers sent out to look for it. Leave the hunting to the hunters.
By harbor hound (31), southampton on Nov 27, 13 8:49 AM
Give the guy credit - he didn't "miss" it just bounced off haha... it would be pretty said if he missed a freaking whale
By Nature (2966), Hampton Bays on Nov 27, 13 9:34 AM
1 member liked this comment
all you need is a proper deer fence not a swat team
By They call me (2826), southampton on Nov 29, 13 1:08 PM
Are you proposing this for all the roads in the Village too? I vote SWAT Team. Git 'em Done!
By ICE (1214), Southampton on Dec 2, 13 8:07 PM
I say we make a stand against this, Its the first time I have seen some of us on the same side of anything in a long time.

Leave the deer alone!
By Erin 27 E (1281), southampton on Nov 29, 13 3:37 PM
1 member liked this comment
Great USDA employees with AR 15s shooting on fields next to 27 what could go wrong.

Just leave the poor things alone already
By 27dan (2854), Southampton on Nov 29, 13 9:31 PM
Jeez, I hope they aren't using Ar 15's. That could be a little cruel to the animals as it is not really a hunting weapon for larger animals. There are much better choices for taking down a deer, but I get the point you are making. A miss could be tragic. As I have stated, I am a huge proponent of the 2nd amendment but I am not a hunter. Tried it and didn't like it but I have no problem with anyone else wanting to hunt. I think that in the long run, culling the herd might be beneficial for ...more
By dnice (2346), Hampton Bays on Nov 29, 13 10:05 PM
"We work for the goverment and were hear to help"

By 27dan (2854), Southampton on Nov 29, 13 10:39 PM
dnice, any credence to the Compensatory Rebound Effect, which posits that a herd slaughter actually increases reproduction rates, and thus produces a larger herd years later?
By PBR (4956), Southampton on Nov 30, 13 5:14 AM
That could be possible. I know that is known to happen with insects but don't know about deer. When man messes with mother nature, she usually wins. The law of unintended consequences.
By dnice (2346), Hampton Bays on Nov 30, 13 4:45 PM
1 member liked this comment
The key is that the cull results in more food being available for the survivors, and that is when the unintended consequences kick in.

Wildlife Education Organization dot org:

"When applied to deer, it means that when large populations are killed, the remaining deer benefit from enhanced food supply and begin to produce more deer (twins) and begin to reproduce at a younger age (as early as 1 yr. old)."

Add to this equation that homeowners may get complacent about fencing ...more
By PBR (4956), Southampton on Dec 1, 13 7:12 AM
PS -- One is reminded of another federal organization, The Army Corps of Engineers, whose "solutions" to coastal erosion often require large and expensive fixes just to recover from the unintended consequences of its actions.
By PBR (4956), Southampton on Dec 1, 13 7:15 AM
1 member liked this comment
PS2 -- Will deer in neighboring areas now be saying "Let's go to The Hamptons, I hear there is a smorgasbord awaiting us?"

"Tourist deer" drawn in by the vacuum created by humans . . .
By PBR (4956), Southampton on Dec 1, 13 7:21 AM
Not too many deer come across the canal for obvious reasons.

Also, while there is some truth to the swing in deer populations after culling - if they are culling a high number of females, it will not have the effect noted in your quote which is assuming an equal culling of males and females.
By Nature (2966), Hampton Bays on Dec 1, 13 4:22 PM
1 member liked this comment
Nature you seem to be in favor of this mass killing is your herb garden that important to you? If so spend the money to secure your property and live and let live.
By They call me (2826), southampton on Dec 2, 13 12:00 AM
I've stated above that the proposed plan in this article is absurd and should not be adheared too. I am for the culling of deer through hunting because deer no longer have natural predators and their food supply booms in the growing season and crashes during the winter season. Hunting is a form of culling and is effective - but due to the increased development of the east end, there are less and less places that can be openly hunted, meaning some other "plan" needs to be put into effect. USDA ...more
By Nature (2966), Hampton Bays on Dec 2, 13 9:20 AM
1 member liked this comment
Perhaps the optimal solution would be to have Sagaponack's premier billionaire pollute the deer to death.
By highhatsize (4217), East Quogue on Dec 1, 13 11:59 PM
1 member liked this comment
There you go again every post with a envious twist, Grow up
Dec 2, 13 12:01 AM appended by They call me
The marinas in Hampton bays pollute our environment far worse than any estate x 100 but you cant wait to make an ignorant statement about Mr. Rennert based on your class warfare mentality.
By They call me (2826), southampton on Dec 2, 13 12:01 AM
I'm not one to defend HHS - but I don't think he was really making a class envy remark. I believe it was a (poorly written) allusion to Rennert's pollution of the environment, resulting in the death of children in South America (which is partially how he has made so much $$$)
By Nature (2966), Hampton Bays on Dec 2, 13 9:21 AM
1 member liked this comment
please you of all people nature must see the hypocrisy in that statement hhs a defender of children , lol after the jay sears thing, pretty comical i would say
By Erin 27 E (1281), southampton on Dec 2, 13 10:27 AM
Yea - like I said not really defending him - and I'm just completing the thought that he was vaguely referring to.
By Nature (2966), Hampton Bays on Dec 2, 13 10:50 AM
This is insane. The problem isn't the deer - it's the people who come out here, buy in the woods, cut down every tree, then erect 8 foot high fences or 20 foot high hedges to keep everyone & everything off their lots. I have deer in my yard. I plant stuff they don't eat & we all get along. I have a friend who owns adjacent to open space. One morning we heard 82 gun shots! There are thousands of hunting accidents each year. We do not need to send more idiots out with guns.
By Ms. Jane Q. Public (147), Southampton on Dec 2, 13 11:17 AM
1 member liked this comment
You know these hunters actually EAT the deer right? It's not like they just shoot them and let them rot...
By Nature (2966), Hampton Bays on Dec 2, 13 11:44 AM
Do not tell those who have fallen victim to the deer population that "The problem isn't the deer." I'm not talking about deer eating someone's begonias, I'm talking about deer being major vectors in the spread of tick borne disease.

I am mostly speaking, however, of people being killed by deer running onto our roadways. I have had my vehicle struck twice by deer; both impacts to the sides of the vehicle. In one incident, I attempted to evade an animal emerging from the woods and crossing ...more
By VOS (1241), WHB on Dec 2, 13 1:16 PM
So that would be why this article says they are only going to kill females "so as not to upset local deer hunters by taking bucks prized as trophies?" Guess you haven't heard of the reports of an increase in chronic wasting disease from deer meat.
By Ms. Jane Q. Public (147), Southampton on Dec 2, 13 2:43 PM
CWD does not exist in NY State. The deer that are going to be culled will be processed for consumption. The "bucks prized as tropies" are still eaten - but the hunters like to mount the heads. All deer legally taken are also required to be reported to the NYS DEC via tags.

Also from NYS: The white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) is New York's most popular game animal and is found throughout the state. Residents and visitors to the state derive countless hours of enjoyment from ...more
By Nature (2966), Hampton Bays on Dec 2, 13 3:02 PM
1 member liked this comment
According to the USGS web site, cases of CWD have been found in NY since 2005. Each year hundreds of folks (& children) die at the hands of hunters - see Committee to Abolish Sport Hunting, which maintains a website of SOME of those incidents. Studies now show that areas with less deer show MORE cases of Lyme disease (see studies done by Penn State, National Academy of Science, Harvard, Ecological Society of America). Numerous food kitchens do not accept deer meat due to the detailed method of ...more
By Ms. Jane Q. Public (147), Southampton on Dec 3, 13 9:12 AM
From a Press Release from the NYS DEC dated Sept. 10, 2013: New York is fortunate that CWD was not verified in any additional deer since the initial discovery in Oneida County in 2005.

It is not an active threat in NYS and the NYSDEC is doing what they can to prevent infection of NYS herds.

I'm not going to make arguments about how "safe" hunting is, especially because Long Island only allows Bow Hunting due to the very dangers of using guns in populated areas. How many "folks ...more
By Nature (2966), Hampton Bays on Dec 3, 13 9:49 AM
to Nature:

Has Christmas come early this year?

The literary device that I employed which you characterize as a thought vaguely referred to is called an "allusion". You got it, They call me, predictably, did not.

to Erin 27 E:

“Nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.” - Martin Luther King Jr.

By highhatsize (4217), East Quogue on Dec 2, 13 11:27 AM
2 members liked this comment
baloney what that man did was down right creepy and for you to defend his actions was equally as creepy. i understand due process but you almost defended his perversions.i do not care what you do in the privacy of your home but when you defend the use of pictures you have taken of local children in your twisted fantasy's you have crossed a line, a line that you tried to water down and everyone who read that article saw what you did.
By Erin 27 E (1281), southampton on Dec 2, 13 11:40 AM
One is creepy the other just likes attention
By Undocumented Democrat (2065), southampton on Dec 2, 13 4:12 PM
1 member liked this comment
Erin, your comparing of HHS to Jay Sears is actually what's quite comical. You seem to be equating the hypocrisy through a false equivalency, HHS's statement about children actually dying (real harm) via Rennert's Doe Run Plant to perceived harm (none of the children were harmed) in Jays Sears perverse fetish. You say "local children", does this mean it's worse because they're local? Would poor children from Mastic be less of an outrage?
By ICE (1214), Southampton on Dec 2, 13 8:33 PM
What I got out of Erins comment was Jay was playing with fire a little to close to home. If he had cut out and did the deed to a picture with you child's head glued to a sex act, doesn't it beg the possibility the sicko could try and abduct the child in his fantasy? Or hadn't you philth and HHS thought of that.
By Undocumented Democrat (2065), southampton on Dec 2, 13 8:54 PM
By PBR (4956), Southampton on Dec 3, 13 7:17 AM
Plain and simple, nuke every deer out there. Enough is enough. They are giant rodents.
By Dayo (33), Sag Harbor on Dec 3, 13 7:06 AM
1 member liked this comment
Lol, outrageous, but more on track then the leave them be camp. Deer were REINTRODUCED to Long Island for the purpose of hunting, after being wiped out. Now people have twisted the reason for deer being present to "they were here first" which was true,but then they were gone. The deer that are here now came after many of the people...
The notion that deer should be able to dictate what I plant in my yard by what they won't eat is ridiculous. It's my yard and the climate and I will decide, not ...more
By ICE (1214), Southampton on Dec 3, 13 4:01 PM
It is your yard so stop being cheep and put up a proper deer fence if you want to grow all kinds of trees, plants,herbs and stop being so selfish
By Undocumented Democrat (2065), southampton on Dec 3, 13 7:45 PM
That it is, but it's not a matter of my being cheap, it's a matter of the Town Code which in Southampton Town doesn't allow for 8' residential deer fencing. Try to stop being uninformed and ignorant.
By ICE (1214), Southampton on Dec 3, 13 11:13 PM
Its my understanding that has been or is currently in the process of being changed, and stop calling people you don't agree with such horrible names, as it turns out it seems you are the uninformed party.
By Erin 27 E (1281), southampton on Dec 4, 13 9:11 AM
Funny Erin, you tell ICE to stop calling people names such as uninformed, then you turn around and call him uninformed (about legislation which has not been passed yet, apparently).

Talk about the pot calling the kettle black?
By PBR (4956), Southampton on Dec 4, 13 9:39 AM
1 member liked this comment
dont be ignorant, I was refering to the use of the word ignorant :)
By Erin 27 E (1281), southampton on Dec 4, 13 5:20 PM
Selfish and cheap are acceptable to you, but ignorant is taboo? Just trying to assess the scale you use in the employment of your hypocrisy.
By ICE (1214), Southampton on Dec 4, 13 7:49 PM
1 member liked this comment
you said "The notion that deer should be able to dictate what I plant in my yard by what they won't eat is ridiculous. It's my yard " and I agree with what you said, is just that i love the deer.did you consider that.all i am saying is plant what you want,but you should be responsible for protecting what you plant and not expect what i would call a government funded mass saluter of peaceful animals i call friends.

to me its sad.
By Erin 27 E (1281), southampton on Dec 5, 13 12:43 AM