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Deer Lovers Demand Sharpshooters Stay Away

More than 2,500 individuals have signed the online petition so far.

More than 2,500 outraged deer advocates have signed a petition demanding politicians immediately stop efforts to institute a sharpshooter program aimed at culling the deer herd on the East End.

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.

Stan Uproar lll December 10, 2013 at 11:48 AM
DaddyO I love them little deer but don't want to hit them with my bicycle so I'm all for killing them off
john December 10, 2013 at 12:07 PM
I agree with the writers who state that most olks who have signed this petition are either from the city or up island or even from parts unknown. yes the deer are cute!!! end of story I live in one of the most deer populated areas of southold. everyday i drive withthe fear of hitting a deer isee them in the morning i see them going to drink from a small pond and every night or early morning they all over the road. WE CAUSED THIS PROBLEM 30 years ago you rarely saw a deer. but in the past 30 years we have given the deer great food to eat by our plantings. The State of NY and its agents the DEc have made hunting harder and harder because of a Liberal bias against Hunting and Hunters because the "Smarter than I am"Liberal Progressives who run this state want to eraticate Hunting and Fishing. all the Humane ways of dealing with the deer has been tried. they have tried sterilizing them its the most expensive and the most time consuming and it would take years to reduce the herd. if these folks had gone to the meetings in southold town you would have heard about. they wanted to give the deer a vasectomy. I wonder if OBAMAcare would cover it LOL the USDA sharpshooter program works. I have seen its results at our airports where many human lives are at stake.
Sue Duffe December 10, 2013 at 04:17 PM
2500 people signed the petition re deer. Did any of them ever get a tick related disease?? As several of my family have been struck down and many of my friends, I would like all of the 2500 to also be stricken by these horrible illness and then see how they feel re our overwhelming deer problem
Ellen Wexler December 10, 2013 at 04:26 PM
Our analysis of those who provided comments in addition to signing the anti-culling petition. Most are not from the east End- and certainly not from Southold Town. These are peopl across the world who focus on deer. The breakdown of respondents by address was as follows: East End of LI : 30.7% (85/277) Other NYS/NJ: 55.6% (154/277) Out of state (other than NJ): 34.3% (95/277) Out of country: 10.1% (28/277) Ellen, North Fork Deer Management Alliance
cm December 10, 2013 at 04:38 PM
Move. Living on the east end is living with the deer. We are over populated with illegals. What's the solution for that? Illegals hurt the economy. They hurt businessman that illegals do for less because they don't pay state, federal or school taxes. How many drive without licenses? How many cause accidents? The list goes on. The point.... there are far more illegals here than deer. Where is the petition to stop this??
Carole Mavity December 11, 2013 at 12:49 PM
cgm December 11 2013 To those of you who say it is inhumane to kill the deer by sharpshooters, who are quick and efficient in their task; do you think it is humane to have the deer suffer a long and drawn-out starvation before dying?
Darlene Smith December 15, 2013 at 03:28 PM
Dont think killing deer is going to solve the lyme disease read this the deer dies but the ticks live on other animals http://www.humanesociety.org/animals/resources/facts/lyme_disease.html
John J. Rasweiler IV December 16, 2013 at 02:38 PM
The dissemination of misinformation about the lack of a strong connection between deer abundance and Lyme disease in humans by The Humane Society is distinctly unhelpful. Clearly folks at The Humane Society have not even carefully read the Tick Management Manual (Connecticut Agricultural Experimental Station Bull #110 - available online) cited in their own web article on Lyme disease. Studies reviewed on pp 55-56 of the Manual indicate that the reduction of deer populations reduced the incidence of Lyme disease and/or deer ticks in 5 different study areas. Furthermore, during the 40 years prior to the arrival of deer on Nassau Point, Cutchogue in the early 1990s, deer ticks were not a public health problem there (personal observations by this observer). Then the deer appeared, proliferated, and the deer tick population exploded. As a professional mammalogist who has worked on disease epidemiology, I can assure readers that many other small mammals were present before this explosion in deer tick numbers and the frequency of human Lyme disease occurred on Nassau Point. It is indisputable that abundant deer provide a plentiful food supply for adult female ticks during their critical reproductive phase.
Darlene Smith December 16, 2013 at 10:50 PM
your should do more research Human Society is not the only one that says killing deer is not the answer http://www.caryinstitute.org/discover-ecology/podcasts/have-deer-gotten-false-rap-lyme-disease here is another study http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/help-stop-the-spread-of-lyme-disease-and-kill-deer-ticks-with-damminix-tick-tubes-220639071.html
Ellen Wexler December 17, 2013 at 11:08 AM
The ticks need a large warm blooded animal to get the blood to produce hundreds of young.Communities that reduced the number of deer to 10 per sq acre have seen a very sharp drop in ticks and tick borne diseases ( of which there are many). A number of careful scientific studies indicate that reducing deer population densities significantly reduces tick populations and tick transmitted diseases (see: KC Stafford. 2007. Tick Management Handbook. Connecticut Agricultural Experimental Station Bulletin No 1010, pp 55-56 – available online). I assume that everyone has been informed by now on the other environmental damages cause by the greatly over population of deer on eastern Long Island. We all know about the damages and injuries caused by the 500 deer related car accidents in Southold Town.The damages to our wildlife , our woods our crops our birds is not as well known. A survey conducted in September 2013 by expert botanists and forest ecologists indicates that catastrophic damage is being done to forests and biodiversity in the Town of Southold by deer overbrowsing (report available from the Town of Southold Deer Management Committee). Forest regeneration has essentially stopped at every site visited, because all young tree seedlings are eaten by the deer. Highly desirable native plant species, such as the pink lady slipper (a native orchid) and formerly abundant sweet fern (a low bush), have now been exterminated by deer on forest property belonging to one of our board members in Cutchogue. Sweet fern is used as a food source by many butterflies and also serves as a non-legume nitrogen fixer in the forest. In many areas on the North Fork, valuable native plants have been replaced by noxious, invasive weeds (e.g., wild garlic mustard) that are spread or encouraged by the deer. As noted by one of the visiting experts, Stephen Young (Chief Botanist of the NYS DEC), our forests are on the path to becoming “ecological slums”. Formerly common and desirable native songbird species (e.g., the eastern towhee and the wood thrush) have also completely disappeared. Decimation of the forest understory by deer has now rendered this habitat unsuitable for such birds. Both species forage extensively in and around low vegetation, and towhees normally nest there as well. Similar observations have been reported by Aububon Connecticut. A healthy forest should contain more than just deer. Many of us care deeply about this. Data collected by the Long Island Farm Bureau indicate that deer damage done to crops and orchards on eastern Long Island is an unacceptable financial burden for our very important agricultural sector. The erection of deer fencing as a solution is expensive and esthetically undesirable. As children we learn about the balance of nature and the harm when it is out of whack. That is what we face with the deer population that has grown ten fold over the past decades.
Benja Schwartz December 17, 2013 at 07:14 PM
Ellen, your knowledge and respect for nature is obvious. How can you focus on reducing the deer population without a public plan? Have you read the book, Lyme Disease: The Ecology of a Complex System by Richard Ostfeld?
Ellen Wexler December 17, 2013 at 07:26 PM
Benja- Our little local group, the North Fork Deer Alliance, has brought in specialists to educate us, and the Town of Southold, concerning the numerous tick borne diseases as well as the other problem caused by over population of deer that we face in Southold Town. As you know there are multiple environmental issues that are seriously affecting us here. Would you be willing to come to our next meeting to help with the efforts to reduce damage done by the deer ?
robert chambers December 17, 2013 at 11:48 PM
Too bad so many hunting area was closed until 11/15. And the restriction that hunter must shoot a doe before he can shot a buck. All that causes hunters to go hunt in other towns. It makes no sences now to want to kill all deers. Just open all areas on October 1st like other towns. 90 percent of all deer killed with a bow are killed in October not November or December
Animalover December 19, 2013 at 09:48 AM
The petition to stop the slaughter of deer has now garnered close to 10,000 signatures in about 3 weeks. Citizens everywhere are up in arms, protesting this "wild west", knee-jerk reaction, of Town Supervisors, Mayors, and their boards, after having been sold a bill of goods by Gergela and the Farm Bureau, along with the USDA who employs professional killers to manage wildlife. They go around making outrageous claims concerning lyme disease, deer/vehicle incidents, crop damage, without a shred of evidence to prove any of these fear-mongering demands for a cull. When evidence is presented by informed citizens and experts, who talk about the futilty of such a cull, because of the rebound effect, the scientific-based studies that refute the deer tick claims, the police records that show fewer vehicle/deer incidents, the aerial survey that shows fewer rather than more deer in East Hampton, that is all ignored and dismissed and the the cry to kill, kill, kill grows more adamant by the ignoramuses who are not interested in facts. REMEMBER THE MUSHROOM CLOUD????
Frank T December 19, 2013 at 10:51 AM
Obviously Animalover does not live on the East End or else she would have a better understanding of the many dangers of an unchecked growing deer population is to local residents.
Animalover December 19, 2013 at 11:23 AM
FYI: Animalover has lived on the East End for 35 years.
Animalover December 19, 2013 at 11:30 AM
PS: Never hit a deer, have a beautiful deer-proof, unfenced garden, never bitten by a "deer" tick. These unfortunate creatures seem to have become a scape-goat for everything that ails East Enders. Statistical studies and hard evidence plus simple precautions, a bit of thought and awareness, a scientifically-based long-term plan and a major infusion of compassion are what is lacking here.
Frank T December 19, 2013 at 11:53 AM
Every day I see dead deer on the side of roads that were struck by cars. I doubt they are taking naps. We found one on our street and it was infested with tick. This is the reality. An infusion of compassion is not going to help East Enders or the deer.
Ellen Wexler December 19, 2013 at 12:41 PM
We are all animal lovers, that is why we need to reduce the huge number of deer. At the Sept. Southold Town Deer Forum we invited experts to give us their "scientifically-based long-term plan" to repair the damage If you respect nature then you understand that one species that has grown 10 times its sustainable number creates havoc on the balance of nature. The Audubon Societies in the Northeast have reported how many birds and small animals as well as plants are now disappearing from due to the loss of undergrowth. Look at the bare barren woods in our town. They may never recover as all young plants are eaten immediately.
Blaise Napolitano December 23, 2013 at 11:21 AM
they should expand the hunting season and allow baiting before investing 200 thousand dollars on a culling which in the long run will not solve the problem. they could start an immunocontraception study in North Fork and South Fork. The backlash that this will create will in the long run cause more harm than good. No one wants to wonder whether there are men with guns walking around at night. That's why hunting laws forbid it. Because they are "sharpshooters" suddenly makes them safer?
Ellen Wexler December 23, 2013 at 02:16 PM
Blaise At the Town's Sept Deer Forum many of these points were explained and reported on by State, Federal and local experts. I think that the video of the Deer Forum is available to see on local TV . You can ask the Town's deer management dept when it can be seen. Kinds of deer contraception was presented at the Forum by experts experienced with attempting this and it was reported as not working and not advised. If you would like more of the research on this contact NFDMA. In terms of "they should expand hunting...." These laws are controlled by Albany. Many of us Long Islanders have been working to change laws to give us more local control over the hunting rules. They are made in Albany and we have not had success in enacting any changes as of yet. Al Krupski has been hard at work on trying to get Albany to hear us out here. Lastly the USDA sharpshooter program are full time experts on controlling over-population of wildlife that is severely damaging our environment and other animals. They have been used all over the state and also locally and have been very safe and effective. Hunting laws forbid non professionals to use guns.
robert chambers December 23, 2013 at 05:07 PM
We can boycott all the east end farms if they cull the deer.
Ellen Wexler December 24, 2013 at 12:01 AM
The farmers have had to reduce the deer herds ( as well as any other infestation of large numbers of animals whose numbers are not in balance with nature) for many years just to be able to continue farming. Farms- that is where our FOOD comes from.
lillian January 11, 2014 at 09:09 PM
Please remember that because of the infestation of humans who killed off the natural predators of these animals is why there are so many. There has to be better way.
robert chambers January 12, 2014 at 09:17 AM
Lillian the only natural predators the deer ever had on LI was the hunter, hunters have been excluded from the properties. Homesteaders took care of the deer on their own for food. In fact the first season for deer on LI was not untill 1966
Ellen Wexler January 13, 2014 at 05:38 PM
Go outside. Go on out and take a walk in the woods of our Town. Really look. They are totally denuded. You can see through hundreds of feet through the sparse trees. Over the past decade (due to over 65 deer per sq mile) shrubs and saplings have not been able to grow. Go outside and look what has happen while we didn’t notice. Woods and so many animals gone. Do you remember what they looked like a decade ago? My 2001 photos of the woods show deep dense healthy woods full of flowers birds bushes wild raspberries, habitats for small animal , flora that served as food shelter for small mammals insects, butterflies and wildflowers. and warblers, thrashers, songbirds that rely on understory. Most are gone now. Along the shore where grasses have been eaten by deer we lose muskrat, woodchuck, nesting mallard, red-winged blackbird, kingbird, shore birds like heron, and other critters who depend on the understory of the shore bank for habitat. How can we justify a narrow focus on deer when their population explosion has lead indirectly to loss of biodiversity that is killing so much of the nature of our Town? Einstein said – “look at all living creatures and the whole of nature. “ Take a walk in the woods and remember what we have lost. Then help with reducing deer herds and maybe slowly we can restore a healthy biodiversity.
lillian January 13, 2014 at 11:07 PM
The population may have increased some, but in reality the land has been taken from them, causing some of the problems you state. The beaches suffer mainly from human abuse. The Island has lost many of the animals you speak of because of the pollution rather then the deer, gasoline, oil and over fishing leaving nothing for them to eat. People intruding on nesting sights is a huge problem. The loss is easily blamed on these larger animals, because humans don't or won't see themselves as part of the problem. Please don't take a walk in the woods or take an atv because you may become part of the reason some of the birds and small animals leave the area. A one time cull may help but i see a pattern developing and in the long run the deer will lose.
Peggy Fonseca January 17, 2014 at 09:20 PM
Ban Hunting Men should find other ways to feel Macho. If their self esteem is that poor they should try a strap on for their lack of manhood!
lillian January 17, 2014 at 09:25 PM
And so it begins first the deer now swans....what next the woodpecker?
Tyler Ocon April 09, 2014 at 09:19 AM
I wonder if any of the petitioners have any idea that the meat the buy shrink-wrapped at the supermarket came from a breathing, living animal. Where's the misguided outrage towards that, eh?

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