In an effort to keep wild deer and turkey off the runways and tarmac at East Hampton Airport, the town has been allowing small numbers of each to be hunted on the airport property.
The town’s Natural Resources Department has received seven special nuisance-hunt tags for turkey and six for deer so far this year from the state Department of Natural Resources and is applying for more, according to Natural Resources director Larry Penny. Six deer and five turkeys have been taken so far, all with shotguns, during the winter and spring, Mr. Penny said.
This summer, a small jet traveling at more than 120 mph on its takeoff roll struck a deer, airport manager Jim Brundige said this week. The jet, with little room ahead to stop, continued its takeoff and returned to the field for a landing so the pilot could check for damage. None was found and the jet took off again without incident.
There have been other incidents of planes hitting deer as well over the years.
Mr. Penny said that a natural resources employee and five other local hunters were given the tags for taking deer and turkey. A flock of at least 30 turkeys has been living on and around the airport property for months. None of the birds—which are large and have been known to cause damage and injuries in collisions with cars—have come in contact with planes, Mr. Brundige said. But Mr. Penny said the danger posed by the birds, which can weigh more than 20 pounds, is significant enough that their numbers need to be thinned out.
Mr. Penny said that East Hampton Indoor Tennis has received a nuisance permit to hunt deer on its property, as has the Peconic Land Trust for some of the preserved lands it manages. The Village of North Haven used nuisance hunting permits to thin its deer herd by more about 90 percent over a decade.
Only one deer or turkey may be taken for each tag issued by the DEC and all kills must be reported to the state.
Since the state DEC released several dozen wild turkeys in Hither Woods years ago, the local population of the large birds has spread “like gang busters” Mr. Penny said. He estimated the town’s total population in the thousands and said parts of the county to the west have enormous populations. The state DEC has held meetings with hunters to discuss the possibilities of allowing wider hunting of turkeys on the island.