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Jul 3, 2012 5:52 PMPublication: The East Hampton Press

Around East Hampton Town Hall: Board Discusses Deer Management Plan

Jul 3, 2012 6:09 PM

The East Hampton Town Board took a first step toward managing its deer population this week by agreeing to commit funds for an accurate count of the various herds in town.

Although the board did not take any official action, members informally agreed at a work session on Tuesday to undertake an aerial survey of the town’s deer population. The survey could cost about $50,000 and would begin this winter.

The action is part of a larger deer management plan that the board has been considering since Councilman Dominick Stanzione first unveiled a draft version of it in May. The thrust of the plan is to diminish the deer population in part by hiring professional hunters to thin out the animals in parts of town. That proposal has resulted in fierce opposition from Bill Crain and Dr. Ellen Crain, of the East Hampton Group for Wildlife. In the past, they have advocated using a contraceptive vaccine as a more humane alternative to dealing with the population’s growth.

Meanwhile, members of the East Hampton Sportsman Alliance spoke in support of reducing the deer population on Tuesday. Terry O’Riordan, one of the directors, said deer are creating an “environmental disaster” by destroying the understory of the town’s woods and forests. Deer also cause bicycle and car accidents, he said.

Councilwoman Theresa Quigley said she supported the aerial survey but expressed concern that it wouldn’t be completed soon enough. Mr. Stanzione said the survey has to be done in the winter because the infrared technology used to count the deer relies on detecting the heat their bodies give off during the cold season.

The plan is chock full of recommendations and steps to manage the deer population that the Town Board has yet to come to a consensus on. Following the count, Town Board members could contract with the United States Department of Agriculture and hire sharpshooters to cull the deer over a three-year period, at a cost of about $90,000.

Other significant elements of the plan include options to increase 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.

With professional culling, Town Supervisor Bill Wilkinson raised the question of whether local hunters would take issue, asking “why can’t we do it?”

Town Planning Director Marguerite Wolffsohn emphasized that after the three years are up, the board doesn’t have to continue culling the herd if it doesn’t want to.

“Our deer population is out of control and huge and we need to get it down to a healthy level right away,” Ms. Wolffsohn said. “For that, the USDA professional hunters and cullers we think are necessary.”

The Town Board is expected to discuss the plan again at another work session.

IT RFP

One town resident asked board members to consider soliciting proposals from the community on creating a system to pay bills through the town’s website.

Paul Fiondella, an East Hampton resident, pitched the idea after Republican board members Ms. Quigley and Mr. Wilkinson’s plans to issue a request for proposals to outsource the town’s Information Technology Department was tabled against their will in May. Democratic board members Sylvia Overby, Peter Van Scoyoc and Republican Dominick Stanzione voted to table it at the time.

Ms. Quigley said she and Mr. Wilkinson were not looking to outsource the entire department. Instead they were looking to obtain proposals from community members to come forward with ideas on how to more efficiently run the department. “Nothing was a commitment,” she said.

She said she didn’t want an RPF to just address paying bills online, but wanted it to touch on all IT functions. She mentioned that she has had difficulty with her town email and forwarding email attachments.

Mr. Fiondella said he and the public didn’t care for partisan bickering on the Town Board.

“You get along, fine,” he said. “You don’t get along, fine. We just want a more efficient government.”

Chinese Lanterns Targeted

The Town Board wants to clamp down on what appears to be a new danger to public safety—Chinese lanterns.

The objects, which are illuminated by a small fire and cast into the sky, can cause fires when they land, said Supervisor Bill Wilkinson. He referred to a recent fire on the roof of Daunt’s Albatross Motel in Montauk last week, and another fire caused by a Chinese lantern last summer. The objects go by several different names, according to a recent press release by David Browne, East Hampton Town’s chief fire marshal—Kongming lanterns, wish lanterns, sky candles, sky lanterns or fire balloons.

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Sounds like a good idea. What is the funding source? Will the Village pay for part of it seeing that any plan that would be effective would have to include the Village.
By hohum123 (91), springs on Jul 4, 12 10:22 AM
Why not open town lands to Suffolk residents to bow hunt that are in good standing?????
By rchamb1203 (8), east northport on Jul 4, 12 10:40 PM
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