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May 14, 2019 6:33 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

Some Push To Limit Hunting Days In East Hampton

Steve Griffiths pleaded with the Town Board not to eliminate weekend hunting days because it could mean some working residents would not be able to hunt.   MICHAEL WRIGHT
May 14, 2019 11:26 AM

With an anti-hunting group pressing for a reduction in hunting days on East Hampton Town-owned lands, Town Board members plan to entertain the idea officially, although most have indicated that they do not see the restriction as necessary or fair to hunters.

Councilwoman Sylvia Overby said this week that the board plans to hold a focused discussion of the proposal at a work session, probably next month. At the same time, town officials will pull together a detailed synopsis of the scope of town lands that are open to hunting and those that are not open to hunting at any time, so that board members can judge whether placing a restriction on hunting beyond those that the state imposes with its annual hunting seasons is warranted.

“I think to get a handle on it fully, so we can come up with a reasonable position on this, we need to compile some more information that we can all review—like, how many actual hunting days there are for firearms, what type of firearms are used, what type hunting is allowed where, how many trails are there, and how many are on land where hunting isn’t allowed,” Ms. Overby said. “Those are the kinds of things we need to look at the numbers on, and not get sidetracked into other issues about hunting in general.”

Councilman David Lys and Supervisor Peter Van Scoyoc have been firmly against the idea of restricting hunting. Mr. Lys said he thinks that the short hunting seasons and the plethora of town lands and hiking trails that cross through lands where no hunting is allowed should be more than sufficient to allow residents who wish to avoid hunters ample places to go for a stroll in the woods.

“There is a good amount of land that has no hunting, and hunters are already limited in where they can go,” he said. “Also, there’s a lot of overlapping between town lands and county and state lands, and having different rules could cause confusion.”

Just one board member, Jeff Bragman, said he is leaning toward supporting the idea, after much “agonizing” over the balance of excluding hunters from all town lands or effectively excluding hikers from some town lands.

“I said to myself, several times, ‘You could go the other way on this,’” he recalled on Monday of his back-and-forth thinking on the matter. “It’s a hard issue to balance. But hunting is different, because it does impinge on other activities—I don’t think it’s a bad idea to knock it back one day.”

Board members have been quick to point out that there has been no official proposal thus far to create a no-hunting day. The idea has solely been that of the East Hampton Group for Wildlife, which has long lobbied the board not to allow hunting on town-owned lands at any time.

The new proposal initially asked that the town ban hunting on town lands with shotguns on a given day of each weekend in January. But some members of the group who spoke at a town meeting last week seemed to be pressing for a broader limit—to one weekend day of every week of the approximately four-month hunting seasons for deer and other wild game.

The state sets hunting seasons across the state, and the town cannot allow hunting outside those times. Deer hunters may hunt with bows and arrows from October 1 to January 31. Deer may only be hunted with shotguns during part of the month of January—it was from January 6 to 31, this year.

Upland small game hunting—to the extent that hunting for rabbits, squirrels, pheasants, quail or woodcock is still attempted locally—has varying seasons for different species, most of which run from November 1 to December 31, though rabbit, fox and raccoon may be hunted until the last Sunday in February.

The town has several dozen parcels on which it allows hunting in some form. Most are wetland areas where only waterfowl hunting is allowed, and on which hunters must be shooting over the water and not toward land.

Many properties are open to archery hunting for deer, but only 15 parcels were open to deer hunting with shotguns for the January 2019 season. Hunting on all town lands is allowed only by a lottery system through which a limited number of hunters are granted access to a certain area of land for a set period of days, to control the number of hunters who can hunt on a property at any given time.

Any restriction the Town Board considered would apply only to the use of town lands—not to hunting on any tidal waters or on private land or county or state parkland.

“People will say we are anti-hunting and that hunters are being deprived of their historic rights—that’s not true,” said Carol Buda, a member of the Group for Wildlife. “Our intention is not to hurt the hunters, just to give a little something back.”

Ms. Buda noted—correctly—that until recent years, the shotgun season for deer on Long Island was only open Mondays through Fridays in January, with weekends excluded entirely. And the archery season was only recently extended for the month of January.

“I’d like to have two days of no hunting,” said Ron Delsener, also a member of the Group for Wildlife, who called hunters “a vicious group of people.”

“They’ll tell you they have to eat,” he added. “Well, go to Stop & Shop—there’s food. We don’t have to kill deer or birds for food.”

While their pitch against hunting in general has mostly been one of compassion toward animals, members of the group have painted the one-day ban proposal more as a pitch for better public access and as the dedication of one day each weekend to those who prefer to enjoy their time in nature without the sound of guns going off or the concern that a hunter concealed along a trail may mistakenly injure them or their pets.

“The feeling is very widespread throughout the town about the gunfire, the fear it causes and the noise that disrupts people’s sense of peace,” said Bill Crain, president of the Group for Wildlife. “In natural settings, people get a sense of peace and calm that they really can’t get anywhere else, and this is vital to their well-being. It gives us a sense of goodness in the world.”

But hunters have argued that imposing an additional restriction on a weekend day, in addition to the already limited time that hunting is allowed, could effectively rob residents who can only get away from work one day a week of access to a treasured pastime.

Steve Griffiths, who founded the East End Sportsmen’s Alliance, said that concerns about safety are overblown, and noted that a non-hunter has never been injured accidentally by a hunter in East Hampton—and that unleashed dogs pose a far greater threat.

“This proposal has nothing to do with what they claim,” he said. “It’s all about trying to stop hunting, one day at a time.

“My son has chosen to return to Bonac … and pursue a career in his hometown,” Mr. Griffiths added. “One of his passions is hunting, just like his forefathers 10 generations back. Taking this privilege away from him would be the first step in turning our future generations away.”

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Move from the CITY and try to change the country as we see it. There is a over population of deer on the east end, how's that working out? Operating on deer in a greasy shop.finding them dead in the woods???
You cry about hunting, you buy land a take their woods and lands from them and call your selves group for wildlife??? Another I'VE GOT MINE group...
By knitter (1684), Southampton on May 14, 19 3:47 PM
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By johnj (978), Westhampton on May 14, 19 4:08 PM
Wow. More and More bans and restrictions being placed on the hard working locals. When will this nonsense stop.....after all the local people have been pushed out?

Stop making our lives harder please. We dont have time for this garbage right now. This is our busy season. Do this in the off season when the hunters can actually make it to these meetings and defend their rights!! Unfair! Table this nonsense until AFTER the summer.

Whats next? Banning all locals from doing food ...more
By toes in the water (801), southampton on May 16, 19 6:50 AM
A hearty F OFF to the anti hunting cabal!!!!!!!
By bigfresh (4303), north sea on May 16, 19 7:32 AM
Let's move to where there is hunting, on a limited basis already, then complain about it. Typical.
How about we restrict "out of towners" from coming here one day a week so we locals can enjoy our town in peace and quiet.

By Thedudes (2), East Hampton on May 16, 19 2:45 PM
BEEBSTER
By Fred s (2448), Southampton on May 16, 19 4:00 PM