Southold Town Supervisor Scott Russell recently announced at a meeting in Orient to discuss the deer problems plaguing the area that the sharpshooter program could be instituted as soon as January.
The online petition urges elected officials on all East End town and village boards, put the brakes on a plan by the Long Island Farm Bureau and United States Department of Agriculture to hire federal sharpshooters to inhumanely slaughter 5,000 deer in Suffolk County beginning in January or February.
The petition goes on to say that public officials should instead institute a humane, sustainable, and non-lethal deer management plan based on science, rather than anecdotal, or highly charged emotional accounts.
"We categorically reject and protest the unethical, 'quick-fix', non-science-based plan," the petition reads.
The petition states that deer will be trapped by bait stations and then shot at point blank range.
"This is grotesque, extraordinarily cruel and utterly unacceptable to civilized people of conscience," the petition reads. "The ensuing terror and carnage these animals will suffer is primitive and ethically indefensible."
The residents demanded that the plan be shelved permanently and that "intelligent, forward-thinking" solutions be explored instead.
The petition was sent to elected officials in all five East End towns.
"I look out of my back door and see directly into the eyes of deer; they gaze back with curiosity. I watch how peaceful these animals are and I am in awe. I grew up in the city and did not have such privileges," said Elizabeth DeFebo of East Hampton. "I am so disturbed that there cannot be another solution. We live in one of the most affluent places in the world, yet resort to this barbaric answer to an overpopulation problem."
Another person commented on the petition, "We have the responsibility to guard the safety of innocent creatures."
"Stop the carnage," wrote another.Scores of North Fork residents turned out recently at a meeting of the East Marion Community Association to tackle what some consider the most critical concern on the North Fork — a local deer problem they said has led to tick-borne illness, devastating impacts on the local environment, car accidents and even death.
"Managing the Deer Problem: A Special Meeting for Orient and East Marion," was be held at Poquatuck Hall in Orient.
At the forum, Southold Town Supervisor Scott Russell said a solution might be in sight: The Long Island Farm Bureau, he said, has secured $200,000 in grant funding to embark upon the United State Department of Agriculture's sharpshooter program as soon as January.The program would cost $500,000 to implement, Russell said, at an earlier meeting in September.
"The USDA sharpshooter program might not solve the problem but it could be the key ingredient," Russell said, adding that the town would commit $25,000 of the $75,000 allocated in the budget for deer issues to the program, which the USDA is working on with the Long Island Farm Bureau.
Joe Gergela, executive director of the LIFB, said, at a town deer forum in September, that he has received grant funding and is hoping to convince each of the five East End town boards to contribute $25,000 to the program, in addition to the $200,000 the LIFB has already contributed.
"To cull the herd we need a buy-in from towns and villages," he said. The funding would be used to hire the USDA, town by town, village by village.
Nuisance permits, which allow farmers without deer fencing to harvest deer on their property, are not enough, Gergela said.
"We have too many deer," he said. "We have to do something."
The sharpshooter program would focus on does and baby deer, he said.
"Certainly, there are going to be objections. But at the end of the day, we have millions of dollars in economic damage, health issues, damage to our natural habitats. It's a serious problem without a a popular or easy solution," Gergela said.
The program has already been embraced by Nassau Point homeowners who paid for the sharpshooter program privately.
The sharpshooter program, Russell assured, "should be underway shortly."
Do you agree with those that signed the petition in defense of the deer? Or do you embrace a sharp shooter program? Share your comments with Patch.