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Deer in the Town’s headlights

By John Kramer:

Southold Town Hall was packed at the Deer Control Informational meeting on September 16th. Here’s what I got from it:

  • The DEC controls the management of deer.  There are several methods that were discussed, the first was hunting.   They are currently issuing permits for hunters to take deer and give out 4 tags per hunter (1 buck, 3 doe) as they want the does taken to decrease the birth rate, which is 2 fawn per doe per year.  But under this program, when a hunter takes a deer, he must then take it to the DEC check point which is in Ridge!
  • This process is onerous at best and hunters complain that the check point isn’t manned when they get there.  I think the hunters have to pay a fee for the tags as well.  Only 328 deer were taken in Southold last year, so it is obvious the system needs changing to make it hunter friendly.  Some changes suggested to improve the take :
  • Change the law that prohibits the use of crossbows, they are more accurate and easier for hunters to use and would increase participation.  That requires a NYS legislative act.
  • The Town of Southold, or the County should accept the taken deer and dispose of them at a convenient location such as the Cutchogue dump.
  • The DEC should change the tag and check in process and eliminate the fees attached to the taking of deer to make it quicker and cheaper for a hunter to participate.
  • The deer hunting season is not on weekends, and is too short.  This too needs a NYS legislative act to correct.
  • There is too little land available to hunt, and Peconic Land Trust property is off limits.
  • The no discharge within 500′ from a house or barn law should be reduced  (requires an act of NYS legislature) and PLT should allow nusiance hunting.   It seems the DEC is “managing wildlife” and raising money when they should be facilitating “pest control”.
  • Sterilization is another approach that seems more acceptable to the public.  It’s problems are that it is very expensive ($300 per buck) if injected.  (If you are injecting it, why not just kill it?)  And it takes a long time to see a herd reduction.  Sterilization through feeding is problematic in that the current oral dose is a steroid that will render the venison hormone toxic and eliminate the hunting of deer for venison.  It is also against the law to feed deer.  A better oral medication is needed that is cheaper and then a legislative change in Albany to allow the feeding for purposes of sterilization and tick control could make this option practical.
  • Deer tick disease control was also discussed and the solutions are hampered by the same “no feeding law” that prohibits the use of the 4 poster feed station where the deer rubs up against the posts saturated with tick killing medicine.  Again, changes in state law are required.
  • The venison donation program was mentioned but when it was explained there there is no local butcher, (Oakdale being the nearest participating butcher) no free storage of venison and no money in any budget to make the program work it was dismissed.

My take away was that the DEC and Albany must change the nature of regulation regarding deer to Pest Control,  and a simple and convenient and free way for marksmen to take and dispose of deer in safe locations must be encouraged.  This will require your calling your NYS reps and  Peter Skully of the DEC to encourage them to step up the fight against deer borne tick disease, deer auto hits, and crop and landscape devastation.

By John Kramer

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