Supervisor: Southold Deer Cull Still Coming Soon

The cull will take place mid-February.

Despite the fact that East Hampton Town has decided not to move forward with the proposed sharpshooter program aimed at culling the deer herd, in Southold Town, the program will move forward as planned.

According to Southold Town Supervisor Scott Russell, the deer cull is still scheduled to take place in Southold; he added that the United States Department of Agriculture is planning to get the culling underway in mid-February. 

"Southold made a commitment to participate in the cull early in the process," he said, adding that the decisions of other municipalities did not affect Southold's commitment to residents to tackle what many perceive to be a public health and safety crisis.  

Last week, after weeks of contentious debate over a proposed deer cull meant to thin the herd in East Hampton, Town Supervisor Larry Cantwell announced Friday that the town would not be in a position to participate in the sharpshooter program this year.

A memo sent out from Cantwell, Councilman and Fred Overton, deer plan liaison stated that after meeting with Senior Environmental Analyst Andy Gaites, Town Attorney Elizabeth Vail, and Planning Director Marguerite Wolffsohn for a discussion on the town's deer management plan and the Long Island Farm Bureau’s deer-cull proposal,  the sharpshooter plan will be a no-go this season.

"iI appears certain the Town of East Hampton will not be in a position to participate in the Long Island Farm Bureau program this year," Cantwell wrote.

The memo outlined reasons for the decision, including an Article 78 that has been filed challenging the town deer plan.

The legal action commenced in December; opponents filed suits in Suffolk County Supreme Court aimed at shooting down the culling plan.

The Article 78 and declaratory judgement, which sought to stop the town and village from going forward with the program, was filed  in December against the town board, town trustees, and the Village of East Hampton. 

It was brought by 15 residents and two organizations, including Montauk residents William (Bill) Crain and Ellen Crain and their organization, the East Hampton Group for Wildlife, as well as the Evelyn Alexander Wildlife Rescue Center, which serves the entire East End, though it is located in Hampton Bays. 

"There may be additional litigation on a local and/or federal level opposing the Long Island Farm Bureau Plan, based on correspondence received," Cantwell wrote in the memo.

In addition, Cantwell said the town had been advised that an Environmental Impact Statement pursuant to the state environmental review was likely required before the town formally agreed to participate in the Long Island Farm Bureau program, based on existing case law.

Cantwell added that the response from private property owners asking to participate in the Long Island Farm Bureau Plan had been minimal.

For those reasons, the plan would not likely fly this season, Cantwell said.

"However, if participation is open next year and a more complete environmental analysis is completed, the town can reconsider. In the meantime, we recommend the town continue implementing the town deer management plan.

"Going forward, the town should continue to support hunting as a primary method of reducing and managing the overall deer population, and the town board has supported state legislation to allow expanded hunting opportunities on the East End. Last year, more than 500 deer were taken by hunters, according to reports to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation," Cantwell wrote.

Another key step, the supervisor said, would be to provide the public with additional and better info about the deer population and its impacts on the environment, public safety, property and crops. 

"Toward this end, the town should improve its monitoring of the deer population and related environmental damage. It should compile data on deer vs. vehicle accidents and locations of deer over time, as well as the hunting of the animals," the supervisor said.

Cantwell suggested educational information be added to the town's website on deer biology, deer fencing, hunting, and the impact of deer; a deer hot line should be created; additional town properties should be added for deer hunting seasons; there should be increased management of the town airport strike hazard permit, so that more hunters would be added, as well as tags from DEC; metrics should be developed to assess changes in the deer population and environmental damage; coordination with hunters and private property owners should be orchestrated for regular hunting seasons; assistance should be given to private property owners to obtain nuisance permits; the town should apply for nuisance permits on its municipal properties; and donation of venison to food pantries should be facilitated.

For weeks, animal advocates and hunters have spoken out in opposition to the proposed cull; a demonstration was held in East Hampton.

In Southold, however, the public is in overwhelming favor of the sharpshooter plan; scores spoke out in favor of the plan at a recent public meeting, citing dire health and safety concerns, as well as environmental issues.


mickey ohara February 05, 2014 at 08:49 PM
When and where will there be photo op of the stacks of dead deer and the local politicians standing proudly nearby in front of their accomplishment like a ribbon cutting event?
Ted Sheckler February 05, 2014 at 08:52 PM
mike it's the north ferry in Greenport not cross sound ferry in orient
John of Greenport February 05, 2014 at 10:35 PM
Ted, thanks for correction. i feel for that poor feline. But there are so many feral cats along the waterfront and by the little shopping center on Front street. Hope this lady is reunited with her pet. But what about the deer? Is the Animal Welfare League trying to get volunteer or subsidized vet services to "fix" some deer? Or to save them?
John of Greenport February 05, 2014 at 10:42 PM
Cull the elected officials by voting them out.
Val February 06, 2014 at 07:51 AM
How many people actually live in Southold who were not able to attend that meeting about killing the deer vs. how many people were physically there to vote on this despicable plan? ALL residents, including weekend and summer residents who own homes here and pay taxes should have a say in the matter!
Linda Burke February 06, 2014 at 08:27 AM
There are certainly MANY residents of Southold who are not overwhelmingly in support of this cull and the way it is being handled. Not a proud moment for Southold Town.
Pamela Fowler February 06, 2014 at 08:58 AM
In response to those who have made the very on-target observation that the Feral Cat Population represents a far greater threat, I must reluctantly concur. I have owned cats, love cats as companions and treasured family members and appreciate their beauty, grace and intelligence. But they are NOT Wildlife. They are domesticated pets, gone wrong by default. They belong under the care, custody and control of their owners. Becoming feral is a tragic and multi-faceted failure that falls squarely upon the collective shoulders of man. What I cannot embrace is the idea of turning a blind eye to the health risk and suffering of both humans and felines in allowing them to proliferate like vermin due to the failure to have any agency take responsibility their burgeoning, out-of-control numbers--mainly due to the failures of their (original) owners, who allowed these beautiful creatures to become loathed for their destructiveness, stench and intrusion upon others--and denying us the right (under the law) to the peaceful and healthy enjoyment of our (over-taxed) domiciles. What I cannot abide is the laissez-faire "you're on your own" attitude toward us regarding the feral population explosion, by Local and State Government. There are no Government monies being allocated to this health and safety problem--all meager aid is derived through volunteer effort and donations. And yet, the Deer, upon whose territories we encroach, are considered a pestilence, to be eliminated. They belong in the wild--abandoned and feral cats do not. If the deer are a threat to us, we are responsible for taking away their rightful place within the natural ecology. Therefore, in my opinion we owe it to them to find a way to cut their population going forward, without perpetrating a wildlife holocaust upon them. There are other means by which to do this, as has been reported. Rather than shooting them, "shoot" them with non-lethal means of fertility/birth control methods: http://www.deerfriendly.com/deer-population-control/deer-birth-control-contraception When it comes to natural fauna, there is no final solution to be found in the elimination of their rightful place within our midst--other than a humane method for co-existence for all.
ed finnegan February 06, 2014 at 09:14 AM
first the deer ,then the swans, next the canada geese now the feral cats- any others we can heap on? i think we should do them all...but i guarantee- mark my words Mr Russell- "there will be no deer cull" some addle pated do gooder ding dong busybody will with the aid of a like minded jurist somewhere (as happened on the southside) enjoin the process and so delay it sufficiently to render it undoable.. judicial tyranny will trump the will of the majority...a sorry situation.
Ellen Wexler February 06, 2014 at 09:27 AM
Thank you Scott Russell and the Town of Southold. Taking action to make the first step towards restoring health to our land and water is what good leadership is all about. Thank you for basing your decisions and plans on gathering facts from the best experts available, evaluating, listening and doing what is best for every living thing in Southold. Last September a team lead by an expert U.S. botanist toured the woods of our town They called it " an ecological slum " and the most damaged woods they have seen in the US northeast. The woods, and all plants and insects and animals that need the undergrowth to live have no more habitat and many are gone due to over grazing of deer. This is ENTIRELY due to the fact that what was a small number of deer in 1980 now number over six times what nature can sustain . Thank you also to the Hunters of Southold who are working with the Town to help restore the balance of nature. If you have questions for concerns and would like to learn more please go to the North Fork Deer Management Alliance website: northforkdeer.org where reports, research and other materials have been posted.
MaryAnn February 06, 2014 at 11:28 AM
In my opinion this is a bad plan but for our protection from these sharpshooters , how close to our home will they be? That is the question for which we should be informed of . Think about our protection from these sharpshooters. I heard it was supposed to be 3000 feet but then someone changed it to 150 feet , is that correct ? In my opinion it will be far worse than anyone could ever believe.
Conservative Underground February 06, 2014 at 11:38 AM
So many bed wetters.
Ellen Wexler February 06, 2014 at 12:56 PM
Conservative Underground: You might consider that it is more effective to express your opinions in a serious way so that people with differing views can relate to your point. Most are not informed about the facts of environmental impact to the future of our town and only are listening to incorrect ( and some deliberate lies.) Let's be neighborly and offer them factual information. Mary Ann -Culling by the USDA experts has already taken place in past years in Southold and has been effective and safe all over the USA. What they do is NOT related to the NY State laws for hunters. Go to northforkdeer.org to read the facts we have collected.
Old timer February 06, 2014 at 04:06 PM
I find it very frustrating that those who against the efforts of the town to cull the deer herd are coming out at such a late date, asking fundamental questions (how far from the houses will the shooters be? where will the deer meat go? etc). the Town spent a lot of time and effort holding two open forums with panels of experts there who could answer any and all questions like these and more (like why a contraception program is not feasible). At the one forum I attended, there were 200+ residents there and, if there was a vote taken, I would guess 95% or more would have been in favor of the cull. Where were all of these folks who are now coming out against the cull? Why did they not take the time to spend 2 hours at one of these forums and (1) learn and (2) make their opinions known? They must be part of a "silent minority" ... I support the Town's efforts on the cull and I applaud Scott Russell and the many others who have gone so far in communicating the problem, listening to residents, setting up commissions of experts, arranging for the deer meat to go to those who can best benefit from it, etc. I do not see what more they could have done to get community input into this needed program.
bootlegger February 06, 2014 at 07:42 PM
I will never got to a Vineyard or Farm stand in Southold again. What an embarrassment.
CaptRedLegs February 06, 2014 at 07:48 PM
Bootlegger, Perhaps you can let the deer take money from your pocket then see how you feel.
Hbjoker February 07, 2014 at 02:09 AM
Long Island would be better served if they culled us humans! There are a lot of assholes running around
Eric Larson February 07, 2014 at 02:38 AM
To Ellen Wexler, I did go a- as you suggested - to www.northforkdeer.org to try to find the "facts" your group has collected. Rather I found misguided misinterpretation of actual facts. For example the comparison of Suffolk having 7.5% of the states population versus a much higher % of several tick-borne diseases was presented as if it shows some correlation to believe we have to get rid of some deer. The real correlation is not the number of "residents" but rather to examine the number of PEOPLE ( including those nonresidents like weekenders, summer people, snowbirds, vacationers, etc. etc. ) who may be in the East End versus the the number of such cases in the east end. When those numbers are examined there is a real question as to whether excess deer are the cause of additional tick-borne diseases. It is just too early to tell. The community seems overrun with feral cats and the vineyards increasing sale of food on site are other factors that could expose more people to ticks. Many are unhappy with deer eating their gardens and flowers and jump on this program to eliminate some of gods most beautiful creatures. Sad.
Hooterville Native February 08, 2014 at 01:04 PM
I hope they find and kill the huge buck that my husband hit Christmas Eve.. He bent the whole bumper from one side to the other, broke the grill and the hood latch.. He got up shook his head and limp ran away dragging one leg and had a bloody head... Only later did we find out how badly he was hurt, he is missing an eye...it was on the grill...We looked and couldn't find him, we and the neighbors have kept an eye out for him to no avail... I feel sorry for him but we need to cull the deer...And about the swans, I think maybe they should look into the geese first...
John of Greenport February 08, 2014 at 10:49 PM
Hooterville native, where did the accident occur that your husband hit a buck and find its eye on the grill? this is too hard to believe. nice story but it - pardon my crassness - just a crock,
Susan Switzer February 09, 2014 at 12:53 PM
The correlation of high rates of tick borne disease (found by comparing disease rates to population) does indeed point to the need to reduced deer populations as key hosts to the tick that transmits those diseases. Studies on islands where deer have been removed(Monhegan, Maine) or have always been absent(4 0f 6 Narraganset Bay Islands) and where all other animals(white footed mouse, chipmunks and birds) are still present show no Lyme disease at all. In areas where the number of deer have been reduced to ten per square mile there are virtually no ticks and only the rare case of Lyme (Mumford Cove, Ct, Bridgeport CT, Maine mainland and some towns in NJ). The black legged tick requires a blood meal on a large mammal to complete its life cycle. The only large mammal available in sufficient numbers to sustain a tick population on the east end is the deer. Humans can pick the ticks of themselves and their dogs interrupting the cycle and they do not roam the woods and fields in sufficient numbers to serve as hosts even if they did not do so. Deer cannot do this. Correlating numbers of tourists as you suggest with tick borne diagnoses would most likely expand the numbers(both population and disease diagnoses) but the rate would likely remain the same as a function of those numbers. Unfortunately there is no way to gather the number of disease diagnoses when these people return to their homes and are diagnosed somewhere beyond Suffolk County.
Eric Larson February 09, 2014 at 02:06 PM
Susan, You raise some good points that i will examine. However, the correlation of diagnosis to residents is impacted and inflated when vacationers, snowbirders and weekenders are diagnosed in Suffolk County while not considered as residents. So the numbers are inflated significantly. Considering the lack of lyme disease in the areas without deer , I wonder if those areas also lack significant colonies of feral cats? I will search out the data you referred to. It would be a shame to kill so many deer only to find that the cats keep spreading the ticks. And the cats are much more likely to interact with humans and therefore may be a a greater danger.
Ellen Wexler February 09, 2014 at 04:04 PM
Our experience over 15 years has been that the weekenders and vacationers do not present with Lyme until they are back home . ALL of them go to their family doctors -away for Suffolk County- many of these doctors do NOT suspect Lyme and so people are not given correct treatment . Of the dozens of my own friends who contacted a tick borne disese in Southold while vacationing or weekend visits ALL went home for medical treatment. So the numbers of tick borne illnesses contracted on the East End is actually much higher than reported.
Susan Switzer February 09, 2014 at 04:14 PM
Eric, While ticks can feed on cats, cats are not known to be large enough mammals to provide sufficient numbers of ticks with the blood meal required by the adult female tick for laying her 2000 to 6000 eggs. Each deer can host up to 600 feeding ticks and thus be responsible for 1 1/2 to 3 1/2 million new ticks. visit deeralliance.com for well documented information put together by the Fairfield County Deer Management Alliance and eradicatelymedisease.org for information from the Connecticut Coalition to Eradicate Lyme Disease. All this focus on disease ignores the devastating effect of large numbers of deer on the area's understory which provides habitat for a wide variety of other species that are equally important to the ecology. We have already lost many species of songbirds and the forests have reached a point where they may not be able to regenerate due to ever browsing by deer. The current number of deer far exceeds that which existed when the colonists arrived. They have thrived on the edge environments provided by our suburbanization and the tight hunting controls enacted in the last century when the deer were temporarily threatened. Read "Nature Wars" by Jim Sterba for the full story.
Eric Larson February 09, 2014 at 10:46 PM
Susan & Ellen, I find Susan's offer of pertinent references to be helpful and an attempt to factually examine this circumstance. Ellen's comments, in contrast, give rise to further skepticism. I do not believe that "All of them go to their family doctors - away for Suffolk county" .Certainly some vacationers are from western Suffolk and others ( here for a long vacation or all summer or every weekend) in fact go to a local doctor. If dozens of her friends all got tick borne disease it presents an emotional reason to so jump to conclusions. We all know to advise friends to avoid shorts and short sleeve shirts while hiking, to be careful when visiting woods and fields - including vineyards. Please stick to real facts if you want to convince the cynical.
Val February 10, 2014 at 01:36 AM
Many Soithold residents want a non-lethal, non-violent approach to managing the deer population.
Hooterville Native February 10, 2014 at 07:24 AM
@Mike Edelson ...you can think what you want, my husband did hit a buck in Mattituck, Bayview Avenue...And YES part of the sclera, was on the grill.
Ellen Wexler February 10, 2014 at 09:46 AM
Good morning Eric Concerning my own family, part time acquaintances and visitors - they, and we, all have multiple times gotten tick bites and some the bulls eye rash from walking in our own backyards, raking leaves and at the beach shoreline. We never venture into woods anymore- as we did before the mid 1990's ( after which the deer population pyramided and the ticks are everywhere.) Most of us did not noticed the tick problem until a day or week later and the bulls eye rash takes quite a while to appear -so they where not in Suffolk County and saw their home doctor. On the rare occasions that they do notice while they are still visiting and go to the local doctor (although most do not see out of towners) the Dr. has stated that when faced with a patients with a tick on for more than a day or one with a rash they give antibiotics and do not need to do blood work. It is the blood test that triggers an official report of tick borne diseases. Local doctors have told our group, NFDMA, that tick borne diseases are very under reported on the East End for the reason above. I also have heard that the four (five?) diseases East End deer ticks now carry is politically sensitive as we now depend very much on on tourism and house sales.
Patchogue Snoop March 02, 2014 at 07:39 AM
Where are my comments?! Something is going on on this site. Apparently, a Jo Miller somehow posted under someone's name to make him look bad. Not an IT guru but beware......
david March 05, 2014 at 11:29 PM
hooterville native, I see you said you were "keeping an eye out" for the deer? Curious ? is that the deer's eye or your eye?. As far as the deer go, bring back native American's to live in the area. When it was their land the deer were decimated. Its only since the state conservation efforts began that the population has exploded. Either that or let some bowhunters on your land during season that will harvest and use the animal instead of executing them and piling them in a fire.
Hooterville Native March 10, 2014 at 01:28 PM
David, We (my friends and neighbors) are keeping an eye out...for the deer with the eye out.. I would love for bow hunters to use my land. I just don't own enough. I have 3-7 deer go through my backyard daily every morning and night I live across from a preserve and from what I understand the hunters didn't get any or never asked to hunt there. (I heard both stories) The other night while driving home with my daughter in 1/8 of a mile we had 12 deer jump out in front of the car and then another 2 closer to home. Earlier that same night I was in Orient and saw deer that looked like it was bedded down for the night , on the sidewalk. When I turned around to check it the poor thing got scared and tried to run away but on the upper parts of her legs because all 4 were broken. I did call the police to put her down.. What kind of a person hits a deer and doesn't turn around to check whether the animal is ok? it was obvious she couldn't get to far from where she was hit.


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