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Governor Takes Steps to Loosen Restrictions for Bow and Arrow Hunting

The new legislation would free up additional land for hunting on the East End.

With the deer cull one of the most controversial topics on the East End, New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo has taken steps to loosen restrictions for bow and arrow hunting.

According to New York State Assemblyman Fred Thiele, Cuomo has included language in his proposed 2014 state budget that would reduce  the setback from 500 feet to 150 for hunting deer with a bow and arrow.

The move would greatly increase the areas available for deer hunting on the East End. 

Suffolk County Legislator Al Krupski and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation called for such a plan while addressing the Riverhead Town board in March.

In fact, the setback was recommended by the DEC in its state deer management plan; the change is also consistent with the setbacks for bow and arrow hunting in most adjoining states.

Thiele said, at the request of local government officials on the East End, that he had introduced an identical proposal in 2013.

"Deer management has been a major issue on eastern Long Island, where deer populations have skyrocketed, creating ecological, health, and safety issues. The DEC, in its State management plan, has made recommendations to reduce the herd by increased hunting opportunities, but these measures have not been adopted by the state legislature," Thiele said. "As a result, farmers and local governments have been forced to look at more drastic management measures. The setback reduction, if enacted as part of the state budget, will provide a major tool that will permit the hunting community to play a greater role in reducing the deer herd. There are other management tools that still need to be implemented, both lethal and non-lethal, but the enactment of this proposal would be a good first step in reducing the number of deer on eastern Long Island."

Meanwhile, local animal advocates for deer have been protesting a planned deer cull on the East End that's set to kick off by late February or early March.

The East Hampton Group for Wildlife strongly opposes the proposed bill, according to the group's founder Bill Crain. "Bow hunting is the cruelest form of hunting. Studies have shown that in a large number of cases — 20 to 50 percent — arrows wound the deer and leave them to suffer long and painful deaths in the woods."

He added that while Thiele maintains that the eastern Long Island deer population has "skyrocketed," in East Hampton, "the 2006 and 2013 scientific surveys indicate that the deer population is on the decline. So there's no need to reduce the herd, as the bill proposes."

Crain said he hoped other towns on the East End would do an actual survey of their deer populations to see if the had been on the rise or declining. "The East Hampton Group for Wildlife has fought expansion of hunting since our beginning, in 2004. We believe an enlightened society can find humane ways of living in harmony with the wildlife," he said. 

Mike Tessitore of Hunters For Deer said he was thankful that Cuomo had taken steps to initiate an archery setback plan that surrounding states have utilized in their hunting regulations for over a decade, providing more access to hunting areas that have become safe havens for deer.  

But, he added, "Although, we are appreciative of the setbacks being cut from 500' to 150', we fear that this measure is dwarfed by deer management policies that fail to recognize the difference between Long Island deer management and upstate New York deer management."

Wildlife biologists and politicians are claiming that Long Island has an overpopulation of deer that is becoming epidemic, while and Cuomo answered the issue with language in his budget that would change setbacks statewide.

"Upstate New York and Long Island have completely different needs," Tessitore said. "What is even more amazing, is that Governor Cuomo was successful in taking away the rights of gun owners, almost overnight with New York's Safe Act, but cannot push through a responsible deer management Ppogram for Long Island, when taxpaying residents and politicians are begging for a solution. We are not impressed by this small step."

Tessitore said one of his group's members recently pointed out that the budget item is a memorandum in support, not an appropriations bill; therefore, the Legislature is not required to act.

"Forgive us for not celebrating just yet," he said.  "Hunters For Deer will continue to push for less stringent hunting regulations for DMU 1C, more land access and a deer management plan that is specific to the needs of Long Island taxpayers and residents," he said.

The deer culling solution has been under fire from both animal advocates and hunters for months, while the Southold population largely supports the plan.

Southold Town residents who turned out recently for a public information meeting on the proposed sharpshooter program to cull the deer herd had a message for public officials: Bring it on, and fast.  

And according to Southold Town Supervisor Scott Russell, the plan is slated to begin in March.

Two days after that deer meeting, a demonstration to oppose the sharpshooter program was held in East Hampton.



C O January 30, 2014 at 07:42 PM
20-50% of deer shot with a bow are only wounded and left to suffer long slow deaths? I've never seen anything like that and I've been hunting for a long time. I can picture a scenario where a weekend warrior who hasn't prepared themselves properly for the hunt could make an animal suffer needlessly. But as a hunter even we don't like that kind of hunting. Bow hunting takes skill, patience, and ALOT of practice with your bow. A true bow hunter takes on the responsibility and takes pride in killing swiftly and humanely. Everyone has different opinions when it comes to hunting and I don't want to change anyone's. There are definitely many different points of view on the subject. I personally want to earn my steak and it gives me comfort to know when my children eat it that it is antibiotic and hormone free. The east end cull which should be referred to as a slaughter is a complete waste of tax dollars and wildlife. Allowing ethical hunters to thin the population is good for everyone. From the revenue it creates by charging for licenses and the cost of butchering to putting food on the table. An overpopulation of deer can lead to disease and starvation of the deer. Starvation and disease is a long, painful, slow death last I checked.
Patchogue Snoop January 31, 2014 at 06:23 AM
Very well said. From the wide range of 20-50% is is a made up stat to prove their point. Hey Andy......CAN........WE...........USE.............TEN..........ARROWS?
Patchogue Snoop January 31, 2014 at 06:27 AM
PS Watch the deer from Adirondacks north into Canada. Or any grass eating animal. They are radioactive, yes it is true. They eat the fallout on the grass from China and North Korea. You know those Chinese our President allows to pollute our country and wants us to hold our breath to reduce carbon emissions. Nuts.
Joanne Hamilton January 31, 2014 at 06:58 PM
I am worried that an arrow will go zooming through my yard if a deer happens to be in the woods in my backyard. 150' is way too close to my home! I think that there are more humane ways to control the deer population. We can live in harmony with our wildlife.
C O February 01, 2014 at 11:41 AM
I completely understand your concern Joanne. An arrow doesn't have the velocity or trajectory of a bullet though. Most shots are taken at or within 30yrds which is 90ft and are normally taken from an elevated position like a tree stand. The arrows then travel at a downward angle. A missed arrow will end up buried in the ground. Most bow hunting accidents that result in injury end with the hunter injured. Whether it be mishandling an arrow and cutting themselves or the most common is falling from a tree stand. I

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