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Dec 18, 2013 9:29 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

Opposition To East End Deer Culling Program Grows

Dec 18, 2013 10:50 AM

Opposition to plans by some local municipalities and property owners to use federal sharpshooters to kill hundreds, possibly thousands, of deer locally continued to spread this week.

On the day when opponents delivered a petition, containing 8,500 names, to the Sagaponack Village Board, demanding that a “culling” program planned by the village be abandoned, the Southampton Animal Shelter Foundation, which runs Southampton Town’s pet adoption and rehabilitation facility, lent its support to those who have blasted the mass killing plan. The foundation asked its supporters to join with the newly formed Wildlife Preservation Coalition, which compiled the petition locally and through an online effort, in opposing the deer killing program being organized by the Long Island Farm Bureau.

“Please support the Wildlife Preservation Coalition … in their effort to stop the plan to slaughter 5,000 deer,” an email to supporters from the foundation sent out on Monday read.

That night, a Bridgehampton woman delivered to the Sagaponack Village Board the petition opposing the program. The board has already agreed to contribute $15,000 to the culling effort, though they say they are not the catalyst for it nor are they playing any role in organizing it.

The woman, Wendy Chamberlain, and a small group of supporters, lambasted the board for their support of the culling program, which is slated to take place in February and March in Sagaponack Village, East Hampton Village and Southold Town. The plan, which is being organized by the Long Island Farm Bureau and overseen by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, will employ federally certified hunters to kill deer with high-powered rifles at night using night-vision equipment and silencers on their guns.

“This, to me, is a terrible, terrible, terrible solution,” said Amy Sullivan, one of the opponents who came to the Village Board meeting on Monday. “I think it will ultimately not work, and I think it is inhumane.”

The USDA, which conducts deer culling programs like that planned for the twin forks and throughout the country, bills the method as particularly humane because deer are generally killed quickly and in non-stressful situations. The opponents said that one method they sometimes employ, netting the deer and then shooting them at close range, is anything but non-stressful.

But village officials maintained that reducing the size of the deer herd was necessary and that the aggressive culling was the route to take.

“I want to reduce the herd,” Mayor Donald Louchheim said. “And I’d like to do something that has a fairly immediate impact. And I think the majority of residents of Sagaponack would support that.”

Ms. Chamberlain said she agreed with the underlying reasons for the program, the proliferation of deer, but said she didn’t think most would support the way the USDA has proposed doing it.

The opponents said that a better approach would be to let local hunters take more deer with bow and arrow each year, and use chemical contraception, administered to female deer through darts, to more gradually reduce populations. North Haven Village has used a program of letting local, non-professional hunters kill deer in its boundaries to reduce the herd in the tiny peninsular village by more than 75 percent.

The culling plan has made somewhat strange bedfellows of the animal rights supporters and avid local deer hunters. Hunters have lobbied for simply using relaxed hunting regulations, which ban the use of bait and restrict the number of deer a hunter may kill in a season, to reduce the herd as was done in North Haven. The animal activists have seemingly sided with the hunters purely as a matter of opposing the federal plan in general, even though many told gruesome tails of deer suffering from failed attempted kills with bow and arrow, an issue that would seemingly be avoided with the federal hunts.

The Farm Bureau and supporters of the plan say that the size of the deer herd has become a nuisance, and a costly one for farmers whose crops are damaged by hungry deer. They have acknowledged that loss of habitat to residential development is a driver of the growing problem, but said that, nonetheless, the herd should be thinned to ease the impact on human activities.

“In the past year, for the first time ever, I saw a herd of deer—not one or two or three, about two dozen—just off Sagg Main Street,” Mr. Louchheim said, calling the growing population a nuisance and a safety hazard for motorists. “As someone who is not a farmer, there has seemed to be an explosion of deer.”

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Have these signatures been notarized?
By V.Tomanoku (790), southampton on Dec 18, 13 10:47 AM
1 member liked this comment
Have a look at the signatures they hail from all over the World! The local people have spoken regarding the overpopulation of deer and the time has come for culling the heard.
By 11953guest (48), southampton on Dec 18, 13 10:34 PM