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Sep 17, 2014 11:33 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

Southampton Town Drafting Comprehensive Deer Management Plan

Sep 17, 2014 11:46 AM

Southampton Town environmental staffers are nearing completion of a comprehensive deer management plan that the town hopes will allow it to better control deer populations in the municipality and possibly serve as a regional model for other East End towns.

Town lawmakers expect to hear a presentation on a deer management plan in the coming weeks that will explore a wide range of conditions and strategies for reducing deer herds and lessening their impact on human property and health. Town planners, with the help of Town Police databases, have been examining the areas where car-versus-deer collisions are the most common, and exploring ways to better alert motorists to the danger. The plan will also explore deer fence policies and whether the doubly high fences should be allowed in more areas where they are currently barred.

Whether deer populations have grown beyond their historical densities, or just seem that way as they’ve been corralled by development, will be explored in the study as well, in addition to what, if any, impact their numbers are having on the spreading of tick-borne diseases and on the ecological balance of their range.

Perhaps most eagerly awaited, from several corners of the community, will be recommendations for reducing deer populations. In the wake of the U.S. Department of Agriculture cull last spring, which was seen as a gory horror by opponents and as an ineffectual dud by farmers seeking to rid their property of deer, alternatives for reducing their numbers has been a hot topic of debate. East Hampton Village recently embarked on a plan to perform surgical sterilization of deer within its boundaries. Other alternatives, such as using chemical contraceptives, increased recreational hunting and expanded allowances for nuisance hunting on private property, will also be discussed in the plan, which is being prepared by members of the town’s Environmental Division, led by Chief Environmental Analyst Martin Shea.

“We recognize that we have concerns with everything from tick borne diseases to the destruction of the environment and people’s property, and the danger to motorists—we want to look at it all,” Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst said. “And we’re taking a look at what our deer population looks like in the town today. Have we seen changes in the patterns to where and how they migrate, and what the scientific talk today around tick borne diseases and ecology is.”

Ms. Throne-Holst added that she does not believe the town will ever agree to participate in a targeted effort to kill large numbers of deer like the cull directed by the federal agency, on behalf of the Long Island Farm Bureau and a number of East End farmers, earlier this year.

According to a report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture issued this month, the federal sharpshooters killed just 60 deer on South Fork farms in Sagaponack and Water Mill, a fraction of the number the advocates for the cull had said they hoped would be taken. On the North Fork, shooters killed 132 deer. Several thousand pounds of venison were donated to local food pantries as a result of the cull, according to its proponents.

Farmers have said that the deer population, in general and on their unfenced lands, has gotten out of control and is costing them thousands in lost profits.

Animal rights activists were incensed by the cull, which employed sharpshooters using night-vision equipment and gun silencers, stating that the policy created unnecessary carnage. In a strange coalition, animal right activists and groups representing deer hunters, typically strident opponents, stood alongside one another in opposition to the cull. Hunters alleged that it wouldn’t be necessary if hunting regulations were relaxed to allow more deer to be taken by more hunters over a longer period.

Both groups, as well as farmers, have been working with town officials on the new management plan.

“Even before the cull we had met with Town Police to track deer collisions and come up with a map to see where the problem areas are,” said Wendy Chamberlin, head of a group that organized in opposition to the cull, called the Wildlife Preservation Coalition of Eastern Long Island. “When the cull came along we developed a long view management plan, everything from tick tubes and deer resistant plants to deer crossings and immunocontraception for deer in tight areas. They liked it and are incorporating some of it into their plan.”

Ms. Throne-Holst said the town’s vision in developing a wide-reaching plan is to use its resources to develop an approach that is comprehensive enough that it can be employed by neighboring municipalities.

“We hope the plan will have regional significance,” she said, “because we understand that we can come up with a plan for Southampton Town, but the deer don’t respect borders like humans do.”

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I hope they are incorporating plans to erect " 4-poster" deer treatment bait stations the way Shelter Island has to help combat Lyme disease. East Hampton village is considering a spay program, which sounds stupid, but it has worked in some areas. Animals are darted with tranquilizers, then neutered. Males should be neutered as well as females. It's an easier procedure and would prevent them from impregnating multiple does each year.
By oystercatcher (126), southampton on Sep 20, 14 10:07 AM
Well, I saw three dead deer by the side of the roads today just in the SH school district area. So lets not diddle about and do something more than offer flowery lip service to the problem.
By Toma Noku (616), uptown on Sep 20, 14 5:01 PM
1 member liked this comment
It's not about the number of deer Spike, it's about where they are a nuisance or come into conflict with people.
By MichaelHunter (76), East Quogue, New York on Sep 20, 14 9:30 PM
That's easy enough to determine. Take the boundaries of the Town of Southampton and everywhere on the inside can be determined that they are a nuisance and in conflict with people.
By Toma Noku (616), uptown on Sep 20, 14 11:53 PM
6 are doing some weeding, I haven’t done in my back yard as I write, cute. Everything else is Deer proof, or it’s history here, since 1959 I never saw a deer, even in the woods where I rode horses and walked, now, I’m infested.
By alhavel (50), Hampton Bays on Sep 21, 14 1:41 PM
I have a family living in my front yard!! Please cull them!!
By sandydog21 (195), Southampton on Sep 21, 14 6:14 PM
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By MichaelHunter (76), East Quogue, New York on Sep 22, 14 10:15 AM
Can we please stop talking about a cull now? It's already been proven to be completely ineffective.
By johnj (1024), Westhampton on Sep 22, 14 9:09 AM
2 members liked this comment
No reason to stop talking about a cull in my view. It's hard to see why a cull and/or a relaxation of hunting regs shouldn't be very effective in the long term. If there have been mistakes in previous efforts, we should learn from them and improve the efficiency of future culls.

I ask Mr. Hunter and others from the hunting fraternity, why we shouldn't have both culls and more extended hunting activity. There doesn't seem to be any inherent conflict between the two, so why not use them ...more
By Turkey Bridge (1979), Quiogue on Sep 22, 14 12:49 PM
Turkey Bridge,

Culls simply do not work and culls done by the government and White Buffalo are too expensive. What my organization has promoted is the giving NYS licensed hunters access to private properties, where deer are coming into conflict with people and causing a nuisance. We also wish to gain access to town properties, where deer might be funneling into the roadway, causing accidents due to an exclusion issue like fencing. We also believe in managing the deer population in a ...more
By MichaelHunter (76), East Quogue, New York on Sep 22, 14 3:03 PM
Mr. Hunter, you make a good case for expanded hunting activity, but you don't make any case against culls. Your unsupported, conclusory remarks -- "simply do not work," "too expensive" -- simply do not do anything to convince anyone that culls are a bad idea.

"Too expensive"? This is a free market, and someone will come up with a way to do it affordably.

You caution against a "quick obliteration of the species" causing a "compensatory rebound." You don't say it, but the implication ...more
By Turkey Bridge (1979), Quiogue on Sep 23, 14 11:50 AM

Case in point, the $250,000 USDA-WS cull performed recently, which was sponsored by the LIFB through a NYS grant, was a complete failure. Out of the 5000 deer they wished to kill, the USDA-WS only managed to take 192 deer, using federal sharpshooters which cost $1302 per deer- roughly. The sharpshooters used tactics that hunters and farmers are denied by state hunting and state penal laws. I will not get into facts on "compensatory rebound effect", as you are very knowledgeable and ...more
By MichaelHunter (76), East Quogue, New York on Sep 23, 14 2:18 PM
Good of you to offer, but I just don't see 192 deer killed as "a complete failure," as you call it. Seems like a good number to me. Was it too expensive at $1302 a head? Absolutely, but I continue to be confident that costs can be brought down dramatically if the incentive is there. Also, maybe they set their sights too high with a goal of 5,000 kills, maybe that was unrealistic.

As to the suggestion that deer are not a nuisance, or that their nuisance impact is not evenly distributed, ...more
By Turkey Bridge (1979), Quiogue on Sep 24, 14 2:29 PM

If you don't see 192 deer being killed for $1302 as a "complete failure", then maybe your support of turning to government to fix all of your woes has made you habitually disconcerted. In NYS, it is the property owner that dictates if an animal is a nuisance. As for your suggestion that a few posts by wannabe operatives and anonymous bloggers supports the genocide of a species, as well as your position, you are lost again. WE are all citizens and entitled to an opinion, but again ...more
By MichaelHunter (76), East Quogue, New York on Sep 25, 14 9:58 AM
You don't know my position on the role of government, so you aren't able to draw conclusions.

It's grossly disingenuous to dismiss concerns about the deer population as "a few posts by wannabe operatives and anonymous bloggers." If you've been out of town for the last ten years, then go to the grocery store, go to the hardware store, go to a cocktail party, go to the beach, go to church, go anywhere, and you'll hear that people are troubled by the plant damage, road hazards and disease ...more
By southamptondems (8), southampton on Sep 25, 14 2:21 PM
Sorry, posted under the subscriber screen name that I use to read the full text of 27east articles. I never comment under that name except by mistake -- like this.

Apologize or the confusion.
By Turkey Bridge (1979), Quiogue on Sep 25, 14 2:25 PM
Is the Pope Catholic? Sure you may, but that doesn't mean I turn to government to fix all of my woes, as Mr. H puts it. I may be "habitually disconcerted" in his phrase, but not for that reason.
By Turkey Bridge (1979), Quiogue on Sep 25, 14 5:54 PM
1 member liked this comment
Don't forget East Quogue village. Between Walker and Weesuck Ave. the count is now 17 with this years new ones. They even have meals at the East Quogue Post office. They look in my windows and door as if to say I was here before you. Oh no you were not. I have live in the village since 1945 and never saw Bambi until the last few years. Carol Combes
By Histerical (20), East Quogue on Sep 23, 14 9:25 PM