When two of Dominick Stanzione’s friends were diagnosed with serious tick-borne illnesses eight months ago, controlling the deer population took on a new level of significance and emergency for the East Hampton Town councilman.
To that end, on Tuesday, Mr. Stanzione unveiled a draft version of a deer management plan to the Town Board. The plan recommends a number of initiatives to curb the deer population. The main points include culling the herds—or hiring a professional deer removal organization to kill off deer—getting an accurate survey of the number of deer in the town, increasing access to deer hunters and working across state, county and town lines to come up with an effective deer management plan for lands owned by multiple jurisdictions.
“I think that we’re at the nexus point of a significant emergency,” said Mr. Stanzione. “The time to act is now.”
The plan is a product of the Deer Management Working Group, an assembly of about 30 people from all walks of life, Mr. Stanzione noted. Representatives come from the federal Department of Agriculture, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, Suffolk County Parks Department, the Peconic Land Trust and The Nature Conservancy. The committee also includes New York State Senator Kenneth P. LaValle and Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele Jr.
The Deer Management Working Group met about four times over the last nine months. Over the course of that period, Mr. Stanzione told the board, its members uncovered two major problems: In many cases, lands with large deer populations are owned by several different levels of government and those governments do not communicate effectively when it comes to deer management.
The group recommends a number of approaches to deal with the deer population. First, it notes that the adoption of a comprehensive deer management plan is necessary, and that document would be a five-year plan to address the town’s deer population. It recommends that in the beginning the town should conduct an aerial survey to establish the number of deer in the town and use that number to measure progress over the following years. Such a survey could cost the town $50,000, according to the draft plan.
The plan also recommends increased hunting opportunities. It suggests exploring the option of opening up co-owned town, county and state lands to additional bow hunting during the 2012 season, and opening the January firearms season in East Hampton Town to non-residents. Contracting with an organization, like the United States Department of Agriculture, to cull the deer population over a three-year period could cost $90,000. Eventually when the numbers of deer are reduced, the town could explore non-lethal ways to control the population, Mr. Stanzione said.
Town Councilman Peter Van Scoyoc thanked Mr. Stanzione for his work on the issue. He called it “outstanding work” and said he “commended” Mr. Stanzione for bringing everyone to the table.
Mr. Stanzione said there’s no one approach to thinning the deer population.
“There’s no silver bullet here,” he said. “It is going to be a combination of comprehensive actions that have the ultimate result in getting our deer population down to a safe, sustainable level where we can institute nonlethal methodologies to help maintain them.”
Recycle Fish Gear For Free
Town Trustee Debbi Klughers announced a new partnership that will allow the town to set up a free recycling area for fishing gear at the Montauk Recycling Center.
Fishing for Energy, the program that will fund the recycling initiative, selected East Hampton Town in a competitive application process, Ms. Klughers said. A Dumpter will be placed at the Montauk Recycling Center for free, and Fishing For Energy will pay for both the transportation costs and tipping fees of hauling the disposed gear.
The program, run by National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Covanta Energy Corporation and Schnitzer Steel Industries Inc, is designed to “reduce the amount of derelict fishing gear in and around coastal waterways across the United States,” according to a program overview.
Ms. Klughers warned that the program could come to a screeching halt if residents throw other kinds of waste in the dedicated fishing gear bin.