Deer have moved into town and Southold wants them out.
Deer have moved into town and Southold wants them out.

The Southold Town Board voted unanimously last night to spend $25,000 on the USDA deer cull proposed by the Long Island Farm Bureau, making Southold the only town left on the East End that has agreed to participate in the cull.

The board also voted that the cull does not need to go through stringent environmental review under the State Environmental Quality Review Act.

Several members of the public came to Southold Town Hall last night to express their dismay at the decision.

“If you agree to this agenda item you will be finding as fact finders of the Town of Southold there’s no possibility the cull will have any negative impact on the environment,” said Benja Schwartz of Cutchogue. “That’s not the way to do it.”

Mr. Schwartz added that he was disappointed the vote was added to the board’s agenda at the last minute.

“Do you job. Your job is to inform the public and make decisions on behalf of the public,” he said. “It doesn’t add up.”

Town Attorney Martin Finnegan said the town’s attorneys have decided that the cull does not need environmental review because it is aimed at protecting agriculture.

“We’re not new to this conversation. We’ve looked into all the options,” said Town Supervisor Scott Russell. “We’ve had wildlife biologists visiting Southold. We’ve had numerous public forums on this. The conclusion by all experts is the only thing that works is reduction of the herd by hunting. It’s the only economically feasible option on the table.”

Both East Hampton Town and East Hampton Village announced on Jan. 31 they would not participate in the cull, after wildlife lovers protested in the streets and filed a lawsuit asking that the cull stop. Southampton and Riverhead have not considered participating, leaving Southold as the Farm Bureau’s only partner in the cull.

All Southold Town Board members voted no last night on a change to their zoning code that would allow a cell phone tower behind town hall, after numerous speakers shared concerns about the health and aesthetic effects of the tower.

“We had this public discussion last February,” said Mr. Russell, who added that he hadn’t know a year ago that there was so much opposition to the tower. “We would never have gotten this far in the process if we’d known there’d be this kind of opposition.”

Dan Durett of Greenport said he believes Southold’s action on the cell phone tower was “groundsetting” at a time when cell phone companies across the country are considering putting towers in historic districts. He added that his take on the cull is that “Bambi has become the new Jaws.” Last Friday night, for the third time, a deer ran into his car.

“It is a very important and key issue. We are not going to decide it tonight,” he said of hunting.

“You made two tough calls today,” said Robert Dunn of Peconic, who added that if local hunters could do the cull instead of the USDA, he would prefer to let them do the hunting. But local hunters aren’t allowed to bait deer or work at night, putting them at a disadvantage.

Mr. Russell agreed.

Beth Young
Beth Young is an award-winning local journalist who has been covering the East End since the 1990s. She began her career at the Sag Harbor Express and, after receiving her Masters from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, has reported for the Southampton Press, the East Hampton Press and the Times/Review Media Group. She founded the East End Beacon website in 2013, and a print edition in 2017. Beth was born and raised on the North Fork. In her spare time, she 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

6 thoughts on “Southold Gives Deer Cull the Go-Ahead; Cell Tower the Thumbs-Down

  1. Animal rights activists are trying to stop the medically necessary deer removal projects by law suits and spreading false pro-deer propaganda.Yet Lyme epidemics were stopped by removing deer in Mumford Cove CT, Great Island MA, and Monhegan Island Me. In the first two places, there were the other animals who could host the adult tick, but they were not able to take the place of the deer. The Massachusetts State Lyme Disease Commission has recommended deer removal to combat Lyme disease. It is the only intervention which has worked. Deer populations must be lowered to around 6/square mile.
    Ticks come from tick eggs, and over 90 percent of the adult egg-laying tick feed on deer. Ticks on one deer can produce up to a million tick eggs per season. Adult egg-laying ticks require a sizeable mammal to feed on and cannot feed on a mouse or bird, for instance. Thus not one tick egg comes from a tick feeding on a mouse. When deer were removed from Monhegan Island, tick population plummeted and the Lyme epidemic ended. There were still rats on the island, but no tick eggs came from these rats.
    There are other mammals elsewhere which may host the adult tick but they are not present in large enough numbers to take the place of deer. Many groom ticks off of themselves.
    These animal rights groups should be sued for spreading diseases and depriving us from enjoying nature as we did before the deer epidemic. In 1930 there were 300,000 deer. Today there are 30 million. The deer epidemic caused the Lyme epidemic.
    Lyme disease can cause crippling arthritis, brain damage, and heart disease (fatalities have been reported), and the group at highest risk is the children. Animal rights groups put the rights of deer above the rights of our children. More and more diseases are now known to be carried by the deer tick and like Lyme are increasing in incidence. These include babesiosis, anaplasmosis, and Powassan viral encephalitis. The deer lovers should consider loving our children too.

  2. You Southold folks are truly shameless. Spare us your continued justification for your coldblooded choice to horrifically murder these innocent creatures .We have heard enough. You have appointed yourselves to be executioners and their blood is on your hands. You turned a beautiful peaceful town into a war zone by allowing the USDA and their army of the cruel come into Long Island ,NY. to massacre our deer. …..Southold the town without pity. This will be your legacy.

  3. The animal rights extremists are unbelievable. They care about deer but not about people. Removing deer will save human lives and prevent much human misery. Are they all vegetarians? An article in The Wall Street Journal suggested allowing hunters to sell venison. Many people love it, and it’s good for you. Would we be allowing herds of cows in our yards? Many of us remember the good old days when there were no deer or deer ticks, and the great outdoors was a relaxing enjoyment rather than a potential killer.

  4. The Long Island Farm Bureau and their members will pay the highest $$ price for this horrific war being waged on the deer. The NY public is becoming increasingly aware of the proposed cruel massacre of the Southold deer that the LIFB planned along with the USDA death squads and town officials . Ethical and humane consumers and soon larger retailers won’t purchase wine or produce from the Southold members of the LIFB. The cancer of their cruelty is rapidly spreading in the newspapers ,radio , television and the internet. In the end they will feel it in their pocketbooks. Worst of all the ugly negative perception of the once beautiful Southold will never be erased .Southold ………The Town Without Pity. Choose Humane East End.

  5. Here is an excellent letter from a concerned citizen regarding the proposed coming deer massacre in Southold……… There is a growing army rising up and opposing this atrocious plan. There are non-lethal ways to reduce populations, but you refuse to acknowledge them as you are steadfast on kill, kill, kill. Even more appalling, Supervisor Russell has publicly stated that he would like to kill ALL deer. The public health scare propaganda and lies will not sway those who oppose. Thousands and thousands have signed the petition in protest and will continue to fight for what we believe is right. We are the compassionate who not only care about other people, but other living creatures. We support life, not take it away. The public outcry against this slaughter will continue and I am hopeful legal action will stop this slaughter.

  6. Rose Kay, you know well that there are no non-lethal ways to reduce the deer density to the level required to reduce tick density in order to protect the public from debilitating and sometimes lethal diseases carried by the deer tick. Why do you not care about humans health?

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