Petitioners ask towns to forget about USDA sharpshooter program

Deer move in to the suburbs.
Deer move in to the suburbs.

As of Thursday afternoon, more than 4,500 East Enders and people from all over the world have signed a change.org petition asking the East End’s mayors and supervisors to not join the Long Island Farm Bureau’s plan to hire sharpshooters to take out deer in the five East End towns next year.

The petition asks the town and village leaders to “immediately cease and desist” from pursuing the sharpshooter program and “immediately institute a humane, sustainable, non-lethal deer management plan based on science, rather than anecdotal, highly charged emotional accounts.”

The farm bureau plans to use a $200,000 grant from New York State to hire the USDA sharpshooters, beginning in February, and is asking towns to each chip in $25,000 to augment their efforts.

Many people who signed the petition gave adamant explanations for why they had added their names.

“This is brutal! There are other methods to thin the herds with out resorting to such inhumane actions and costly ones at that!” said Samantha Mitchell of East Quogue. “The person who came up with this needs some serious evaluations. Maybe you should watch a video of exactly what a captive bolt does! Horrible and I am embarrassed to say I live here when our local government thinks such an action is acceptable.”

“Yes, the deer have eaten my flowers and I was angry with them and yes, I do not want to get Lyme Disease but the thought of slaughtering 5,000 deer to cull the herd is shocking and it makes me even more angry,” said Maryann McEnerney of East Hampton. “There has to be another way to deal with these beautiful animals.”

“Disgraceful. $500,000 that the long suffering, overburdened Suffolk County taxpayer must shell out!” said Rich Bove of Calverton. “Bow hunters within 150 ft. of our homes? Is this insanity at work? The reasons stated are ludicrous, easily refuted. At minimum a more humane non-lethal method of control alternatives/deterrents should be explored.”

Southold and Riverhead towns are also seeking a “home rule” message from the state legislature to allow bow hunting by private hunters, not the USDA sharpshooters, within 150 feet of houses. If approved by the legislature, East End towns could opt in to allowing bowhunters closer than the 500 feet currently allowed by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.

The petition’s organizers, The Wildlife Preservation Coalition of Eastern Long Island, are seeking 5,000 signatures before sending the petition to the town leaders.

Beth Young

Beth Young has been covering the East End since the 1990s. In her spare time, she runs around the block, tinkers with bicycles, tries not to drown in the Peconic Bay and hopes to grow the perfect tomato. You can send her a message at editor@eastendbeacon.com

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