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Sep 29, 2010 1:30 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Westhampton Beach decides not to launch deer culling program

Sep 29, 2010 1:30 PM

WESTHAMPTON BEACH—The Westhampton Beach Village Board will not take any action to cull local deer populations.

That announcement at last week’s work session came in the wake of a public hearing earlier this month, at which several Westhampton Beach residents complained that a growing deer herd was laying waste to their gardens, putting drivers at risk and spreading Lyme disease. At the time, the Village Board had been considering establishing a program that would allow licensed bow hunters, after securing permission from homeowners, to kill deer in the village during bow hunting season, which runs from the start of October to the end of December.

But Mayor Conrad Teller said at a work session last Wednesday, September 22, that after consideration the complaints of some residents did not warrant village involvement. At the same time, he stressed that homeowners could still contact bow hunters on their own and allow them to hunt on their properties, as long as their actions comply with state law.

“We are not going to do anything further to facilitate the killing of the deer because they are eating a few flowers and shrubs,” the mayor said at the start of the meeting.

There were 20 documented vehicle-versus-deer accidents in Westhampton Beach over the last 18 months, none of which resulted in injuries, Mr. Teller said, citing statistics provided to him by the Westhampton Beach Police Department. Another 17 deer carcasses were reported found over that period, according to the mayor; he said those deer could also have been struck by cars, with the accidents going unreported. Still, he called the accident statistics “negligible.”

Deputy Mayor Toni-Jo Birk agreed. “Looking at these figures, I don’t think it’s an emergency,” she said.

The announcement sparked the ire of Lynda and Ralph Folz, a couple who have called for the village to take action to help thin the local deer population.

“How many accidents have to happen before you consider it?” Ms. Folz asked the Village Board at the end of last week’s meeting.

She also brought up the fact that neighboring Quogue Village launched a similar program three years ago to help thin the herd in that municipality. “Neighboring villages are taking actions to protect their residents,” she said.

On Friday, Christopher Osborne, Quogue Village’s ordinance inspector, told Quogue Village Board members that 235 deer were killed in the village during the hunting season last year. Though most were killed by bow hunters, some died after being struck by vehicles, according to Mr. Osborne.

“I think that it’s a success,” Mr. Osborne, who also serves as chief of the Quogue Fire Department, said of Quogue’s bow hunting program while addressing his board on September 24. He added that officials with the state’s Department of Environmental Conservation have described Quogue’s deer control initiative as a “model program.”

Last week, Mr. Folz asked Westhampton Beach Village Board members if their position to not start a similar program was unanimous. Four members said they were in agreement, but Trustee Hank Tucker said the accident statistics were not shared with him before the meeting. Still, Mr. Tucker said he had heard some concerns from residents who were “nervous” about people hunting in the village, and said he was “troubled” by the prospect of a wounded deer escaping a hunter and running through the village.

Mr. Teller, who said he was a licensed hunter, also brought up that concern. “They don’t stop instantaneous, like you see on television or anywhere else,” he said of deer that had been shot. “There are good shots, there are bad shots. There are good archers, there are bad archers.”

The mayor also responded to complaints raised by the Folzes by reiterating that village residents could still hire bow hunters on their own, without the involvement of village government. State law prohibits the discharge of firearms, including bows, within 500 feet of an occupied residence unless the homeowner grants permission. If individual residents do not have a large enough property to allow for bow hunting, neighbors can band together and give collective permission to the hunters.

At the public hearing held earlier this month, several Westhampton Beach residents spoke out in favor of allowing bow hunters to kill deer in the village, and no one spoke out against such a program. But since then, more than 70 people from across Long Island have written letters to the village opposing bow hunting.

“I live on Main Street and honestly do not want to see hunters on the Great Lawn or at the gazebo,” wrote resident Paula Eglevsky in a letter to Ms. Birk that was dated September 9. “It’s distressing and I’d be upset to walk [on] Main Street with my family (and walk my dog) if this was to be allowed in our beautiful village.”

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You live out here, you live with deer, birds, snakes, turtles, ticks, butterflies, etc. Some years ago, people who bought condos at Artist Lake complained bitterly about the noise the frogs made in the spring. Learn to live with nature. Otherwise, that's why God gave us NYC, Nassau County, and western Suffolk.
By darwin (47), southampton on Oct 5, 10 10:23 AM
darwin you of all people should understand the need to thin the herd since we have eliminated the herd thinning Wolves. If we are truly to live with nature I say bring back the wolves!
By ICE (1214), Southampton on Oct 5, 10 7:57 PM
BTW, Islip is in western Suffolk and they have a horrendous deer problem.
By ICE (1214), Southampton on Oct 5, 10 8:09 PM
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By localwoods, Hampton Bays on Oct 5, 10 1:13 PM
Live and let live! The deer were here first and we should leave them alone! And you bastards at the town should should leave me alone! you need to live with my 8 ft high deer fence.Because I will never take it down. Its my house my property not yours ! Now shut up about the deer already and stay out of my business!
By joe hampton (3461), south hampton on Oct 6, 10 10:57 AM
You're right! I forgot about Islip. But maybe it's the deer who have a people problem. Humans did this. We greatly reduced their habitat. inticed them with delicious shrubs and spacious lawns, and we did away with their predators (well, except for cars). Now our only solution is to kill them. I understand it - I just don't like it! Don't feed the deer and let's preserve more habitat. Not a solution but .......
By darwin (47), southampton on Oct 6, 10 11:10 AM
There are too many deer. They have to be culled. If you wait for someone to die in a car accident before doing something, you are fools.
By voter (33), Amagansett on Oct 6, 10 11:25 AM