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Jul 11, 2017 4:24 PMPublication: The East Hampton Press

East Hampton Village Sends Out Questionnaire On Deer Population

The East Hampton Village Board, who are planning to send out a questionnaire to residents asking how they feel about the deer population in the village. JON WINKLER
Jul 18, 2017 3:54 PM

East Hampton Village is looking for public input on how to control the deer population.

The East Hampton Village Preservation Society will host a community forum on the subject on Thursday, July 27. Meanwhile, village officials mailed out a questionnaire seeking input on Thursday, July 13.

Kathleen Cunningham, executive director of the Village Preservation Society, said that major concerns about the deer population include the effect on the health of the ecosystem: Deer have damaged the habitats of quail and pheasants and forced them out, Ms. Cunningham said. She also stressed the issue of deer eating saplings, preventing trees from growing and supporting other animals in the environment.

“The bottom line is, whether we have 500 deer or 5,000 deer, it’s too many for this patch of land for living on,” Ms. Cunningham said last week.

The community forum will be held from 5:30 to 7 p.m. on July 27 at Hoie Hall at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church.

The survey mailed out last week by East Hampton Village Board includes nine questions ranging from whether the deer population is a concern for residents, if car accidents stemming from deer on the road or tick-borne illnesses associated with deer are a concern, and if residents would support sterilization or other methods of controlling the population.

On Tuesday, Village Administrator Becky Hansen said that 2,040 questionnaires were sent out, and a dozen have been filled out and mailed back to Village Hall, although they have not been reviewed yet.

The questionnaire came after the village’s deer sterilization project with White Buffalo Inc. was stalled last August when the village and the company it hired to sterilize the population had no new contract prepared for the third phase of the project. The first two phases of the project were completed in 2015.

“The village is being faced with, ‘Do we consider a phase 3 of the sterilization, or whether culling is an additional option?’” Ms. Hansen said last week. “Immunocontraception is not an option for the village to undertake. There had already been two phases of the sterilization project performed in the village. It doesn’t feel too appropriate to mingle both types of programs.”

Ms. Hansen also pointed out that bow hunting is allowed on private property with consent from the property owner. She said that if culling was determined to be a viable option, the village would decide whether to establish a program allowing this method or work with private property owners to hunt for deer.

Residents have spoken to the Village Board about deer eating vegetation and expressed concern about tick-borne illnesses spread by deer. Ms. Hansen referenced the founding of the Tick-Borne Disease Resource Center at Southampton Hospital and the Suffolk County Tick Control Advisory Committee as examples of how urgent the tick-borne illness issue is.

“There are a host of tick-borne diseases that are affecting many residents on the East End,” she said. “Clearly, it’s an issue on Long Island.”

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