Southold Town is working with Suffolk County to open an additional 144 acres of jointly-owned land to hunters this fall.
Deputy Director of Public Works, Jeff Standish and Laura Klahre, who works with the Deer Management Task Force, discussed the plan with the Southold Town Board at its Tuesday work session.
The town currently has 306 acres in the town-run program. The additional land will include specific zones in Dam Pond Preserve, Arshamomaque Pond Preserve and Soundview Dunes (formerly known as the Bittner property). Klahre said the proposal is to open the land for bow hunting from Nov. 15 until Dec. 31.
Standish said that deer hunting and hiking were compatible activities and certain zones would be established for hunters. If the town does agree to work with the county, Standish said, the hunters would be following county regulations. He said hunters would need a license through the county and a certificate to hunt on these properties and that it would most likely be handed out to four individuals. Because county land would be involved, the slots would be open to non-Southold Town residents. He said the county hunters would not be allowed on town land and would not be entered into the town’s lottery system to obtain a town license.
Councilman Albert Krupski suggested the board try the program for a year. As a land owner, he understands managing the program could be too difficult.
“Sometimes managing the hunters is just as hard as managing the deer,” Krupski said.
Standish said he is not sure if a lot of deer would even be harvested in the program because of the restricted areas available.
Klahre said she agreed the hunters might not be able to get many deer on the proposed land but this is the first step for the county to open any of its lands to hunting.
“They have eaten all the vegetation in these parks and have moved into people’s yards,” Klahre said.
Another concern is that the county would be in charge of policing the hunters and not the town. Standish said he wanted to keep the integrity of the existing town-run program and was concerned if the policing of the additional parcels were left up to the county, problems could arise.
The board supported running the program for a year and Supervisor Scott Russell said he would like Standish and Klahre to tell the county the town supported the idea but would like to county to give the town the ability to police the program.