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USDA: Southold Deer Cull 'On Track' To Start This Month

The cull could continue through early April, according to the USDA.

Despite the fact that a controversial sharpshooter program aimed at thinning the deer herd in Southold Town was initially set to begin in mid-February, officials were unable to disclose the actual start date of the cull — or to reveal whether or not it had actually already begun.

Joe Gergela, executive director of the Long Island Farm Bureau, the agency that has contracted directly with the United States Department of Agriculture's Wildlife Division for the cull, said that on the advice of legal counsel, he was not able to speak on the issue.

Carol Bannerman, public affairs officer for the USDA, said on Wednesday that the cull "is on track to begin this month" and could continue through early April.

"The nights when work is planned will not be released in advance for safety reasons.  Local safety agencies will be advised before work begins," she said.

Bannerman said the number and type of locations available, weather and other variables will impact the total number of deer to be taken. The number will be within the amount allowed by permits issued by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, the state agency that manages deer and other wildlife, and within the state program’s National Environmental Police Act compliance, she said.

"The number taken likely will be less than the number harvested by recreational deer hunters in the county and the East End Deer Project will complement, but not replace, recreational hunting," Bannerman said.

The number of teams will vary depending on a variety of factors and they will operate only on properties where there is signed written permission of the property owner or manager, she added.

The USDA's division of Wildlife Services had both an environmental analysis from 2003 posted and a 2009 analysis, the 2009 FONSI, she said; an additional environmental review is also underway.

"A cooperative services agreement with the Long Island Farm Bureau and signed permission for access to various properties are in place, which allow for the program to begin," she said.

When asked how the recent lawsuit and temporary restraining order filed by the Wildlife Preservation Coaliton would impact the cull, Bannerman said, "Speculation on pending legal action would be inappropriate, although Wildlife Services complies with all local, state, and other legal requirements," Bannerman said.

On Tuesday night, members of the public spoke out against the cull at a Southold town board meetng.

Ron Coons, who lives part of the year in Laurel, said while he is not a hunter or an animal activist, he said his goal was to get the town to reconsider their decision to allocated $25,000 toward the cull; the board voted two weeks ago to designate those funds.

Coons said he'd heard an array of facts, including that it would cost $30 million to sterilize the deer, rather than kill them.

He directed a number of questions to Councilman Bill Ruland, a farmer. He asked about the estimated deer population in Southold.

Ruland said it could be 85 per square mile, "a rampant number."

Coons also asked if any statistical study had been done in Southold to document the deer population and suggested a new, paid study, utilizing new technology, such as infrared lighting, be considered.

Other questions concerned how many deer the USDA was authorized to cull. "They're in the business of killing animals," he said.

Ruland said the agreement was directly between the LIFB and the USDA and the town was not involved.

"I don't know for certain, but I hope it's enough to make a difference," Ruland said.

On Wednesday, Bannerman said the limit of deer to be culled would be 1000. "Removing all of them is not our goal," she said.

Coons also asked about the method of culling the deer, which the USDA outlined in an earlier Patch article.

Town Attorney Martin Finnegan said the town had no involvement in the deer cull. "This is not a town action. We have no involvement in the details of the plan," he said. The only action taken by the town was the authorization of the funds, he said. "These questions should be directed to the USDA and LIFB."

"They can't just come into the Town of Southold and kill animals," Coons said.

"Yes, they can," Finnegan answered, adding that the agreement was made with private landowners, not town parcels.

"Southold Town is on the side on this issue," Supervisor Scott Russell said.

Coons said he was afraid all the deer in Southold would be killed. Bannerman said the goal was not to completely eradicate any living species.

"If no one is watching you could change the landscape of Southold forever," Coons said, suggesting the cull be put on hold for a year or so to explore other options and perform additional research.

"We are humans and we are responsible for the planet," Coons said.

Russell countered, "I do not want to see any species indigenous to the area disappear but I do not want to see any species dominate or overrun other species. We have an an environmental and public health crisis. We can't ignore it."

Cutchogue resident Benja Schwartz also asked the board to take time to weigh other options and reconsider making the contribution; he also questioned the "closed process."

Meanwhile, Art Tillman of Mattituck, also the town's Democratic party chair, said when a member of your family has suffered from Lyme disease, "your perception changes dramatically."

The public outcry against the cull came after three earlier public forums and meetings, during which time the outpouring of support was overwhelmingly in favor of the cull, as residents painted pictures of lives ravaged by tick born diseases and car accidents caused by deer, and experts detailed the damage to the environment caused by the swelling deer population.



forward thinking February 27, 2014 at 10:17 AM
Reasonability - just to let you let you know the last live thing I shot was in 1957. liberal whining does not make a position correct. south fork "westies" should worry about culling crime in their own back (winter residence) yard and they have no clue about farming. hows that for emotional ranting. facts dictate culling see minn. and their white paper and how they spent to get the same results-culling. emotions for bambi do not negate the facts..
Arnold Timer February 27, 2014 at 10:17 AM
OH-OH! Judge Dismisses Suit To Halt Deer Cull; No Restraining Order Granted: http://easthampton.patch.com/groups/politics-and-elections/p/judge-dismisses-suit-to-halt-deer-cull-no-restraining-order-granted
Concerned February 27, 2014 at 10:19 AM
Mr Bird The deer herd is a local Southold matter that is the responsibility of the local town board and citizens. What folks up island think and in the Hampton's is irrelevant under The Wild Life Protection doctrine which has been up held by the Supreme Court numerous times. The Town has tried to get Albany to extend and allow for more hunting. They have not done so, thus the need for to cull the deer herd.
Rose Kay February 27, 2014 at 10:35 AM
This Southold board (two of which are farmers ) who voted to appropriate $25,000 to private interests seems a conflict of interest in their use of public funds for their own interests. Their ludicrous statement that they have no involvement in this matter is highly questionable .
Frank T February 27, 2014 at 10:41 AM
Oh my Southold town board has 2 farmers on the board. How shocking a farming community has representatives from hard working businesses and not loaded with ambulance chasers and professional politicians.
Arnold Timer February 27, 2014 at 10:50 AM
Thomas I read your response, and I do not hunt either. I did however grow up in an agricultural community and around many friends and family who were hunters. The hunters I knew, for the most part were environmentalists who had a deep respect for the animals they hunted and used to feed their families. Unfortunately, hunting which was very effective for hundreds of years is no longer working. Societal changes and the urbanization of our culture have resulted in fewer and fewer people hunting each year. The DEC has actively tried to encourage hunting to youth in rural areas, but as hunting has typically been learned from previous generations this has not been effective. Consequently hunting seasons have been lengthened and additional doe permits issued, but the deer population is in general is still too high. On eastern LI we have the additional problem that the population density is too high to allow amateur hunters to safely use firearms of any kind. Contraception is a nice idea but is not affordable or proven to be effective. Allowing professional, trained hunters, operating under coordinated supervision will ultimately be more effective, safer for our communities, and more humane (fewer non kill shots) than leaving this to hobbyists. This is not a new idea or practice and I cannot find any place on the web where a community is vilified or property values have been impacted by implementing a deer cull.
Rose Kay February 27, 2014 at 11:20 AM
Concerned If board is properly using taxpayer monies to fulfill their fiduciary responsibility then that would also mean the public will have full disclosure such as dates, places and times this massacre will be carried out. Since taxpayers are paying for it. The only statement we received which seems to leave us in the dark was that they had no involvement in the planned slaughter of the deer .
Concerned February 27, 2014 at 12:02 PM
Rose Kay, The timing and places of the cull must be kept confidential to protect the ill advised animal rights activists from placing themselves in danger as it is very possible they would try to block it or use other means to discredit the process. We must be sure all precautions are used to keep people safe.
Reasonability February 27, 2014 at 01:34 PM
Concerned: My proof came from your own post--many of the deer carcasses go to your taxidermist friend. Here are some of the award-winning euphemisms used by the Nazis and the hunting community. Try to guess which were used by Nazis and which are used by hunters. Challenging! Harvest=slaughter Special treatment=murder Protective custody=incarceration Cull=mass murder Vermin=lower species Quality management=killing Precautions=unwarranted arrest
Frank T February 27, 2014 at 01:45 PM
Since you enjoy talking about Nazi's I could compare you, Kookay and the so called "animal rights" groups as Sturmabteilung or Brown shirts, Hitler's assault division. Both of you try to intimidate or bully your way and disrupt legal proceedings and meetings. Hail Kookay!
Reasonability February 27, 2014 at 02:24 PM
I like to think of us as the French Resistance. I think you should try to remember which side did the mass killing of human animals back then. The animal rights people aren't carrying guns, and we're not the ones who will be piling up 3000 deer carcasses if your beloved "cull" happens.
Reasonability February 27, 2014 at 02:31 PM
Hey Concerned: You told me "You are uneducated when it comes to wild life." I don't claim to be an expert, but you certainly aren't one since you can't even spell the word correctly. It's "wildlife".
Concerned February 27, 2014 at 03:34 PM
Reason, The auto correct makes those changes. You are unbelievable. Now the words you are quoting if you read the entire post were from a column in the periodical Edible East End. They were referring to the group I recall called Oakdale. So they are not my friends and again they are part of the town's vendors who help butcher and distribute the venison to the hungry and needy. Moreover you go too a the lowest of lows and accuse hunters and ranchers as Nazis? Harvest is a term used by farmers and ranchers when they harvest a food source. Your distasteful reference to compare the murder of millions of the Jewish faith at the hands of the Nazi's to the deer herd cull is disgusting and you are not right in your head. I call the Patch editors to do something with your post by which is insulting and an affront to all people especially people of the Jewish faith.
Reasonability February 27, 2014 at 05:12 PM
First of all, if you look at earlier posts by some hunting-culling advocates you will see that they call us "animal rights Nazis", so perhaps you should have been calling for their removal first. Second, my family is Jewish and my father fought against the Nazis, so don't lecture me about being offensive. My valid point, which you have no answer for, is that while these are obviously different events, both Nazis and hunters use the same tactic of creating descriptions of actions that are murderous and sadistic and depicting them as positive, caring, and productive. "Cull", "harvest", and "Quaity Deer Management" are the most egregious on the list. They need to be accurately labeled, and I'll call them what they really are every time.
Concerned February 27, 2014 at 05:15 PM
Reason, If I read a post that said the animal rights activists were like nazis I would of objected strongly. I must have missed that disgusting post. As for you, you should be ashamed to follow suit and demean your Jewish faith and the lives of those precious people who were murdered by the Nazis.
Concerned February 27, 2014 at 05:18 PM
Lisa Finn, please use your editorial powers to delete any one who accuses the animal rights activists as Nazis or the hunters of being like nazis. It's inappropriate, mindless, and very demeaning on so many levels. You will see Reasonability posts have fallen to a new lowest of the lows.
Concerned February 27, 2014 at 05:21 PM
Reason, Terms like Cull and Harvest are ussed by the USDA not the hunters. You truly are clueless. I wish you the best but my exchanges with you are over.
Michael Tessitore February 27, 2014 at 06:46 PM
The Cull is happening right now in Southold.
Reasonability February 27, 2014 at 11:00 PM
Concerned: Yes, you are correct, those terms are used for public relations purposes, as we can see from all the posts and articles. Of course the hunters don't say to each other "let's go harvest some deer", they say "let's go kick some ass and slaughter as many as we can today!" That was my point, it's all language of deception.
Michelle Siriani February 28, 2014 at 11:36 AM
I think it's absolutely disgusting that southold agrees to the brutal slaughter of deer. That they are ok with watching mothers being taken away, leaving the babies alone to survive. All because you selfish farmers are too lazy to find solutions or except help from the thousands who have offered. Karma is bitch!
Linda Goldsmith February 28, 2014 at 04:46 PM
Just wanted to share this with you-An email I rec'd today-"The HSUS has worked for years to develop a workable immunoconceptive vaccine for horses and white-tailed deer in free-roaming settings. In fact, next week, in partnership with the Village of Hastings-On-Hudson in New York, The HSUS will launch the first ever immunocontraception study conducted on a free-roaming deer population living in an open, suburban area in the U.S. If successful, we hope the project will serve as a model for municipalities in New York to replicate, and throughout the country." FYI
Val February 28, 2014 at 05:39 PM
Linda, the town of Southold knows about the study but they make excuse after excuse as to why it won't work but rather prefer to put bullets into the brains of our peaceful, beautiful does' and fawns' heads. They can't understand that there is suddenly something radically wrong within the USDA (killing horses, mute swans, wolves, deer, etc.) and have stupidly invited them here for the largest deer cull in history. Go figure! After the lawsuit was dismissed this week, the town is claiming that they have nothing to do with this cull. The cull is between the USDA and the Long Island Farm Bureau. If that is true, and it is absolutely not, why aren't these sharp shooters in the five other towns who decided not to participate after their residents were vehemently opposed to slaughtering deer? But, they are here and it is absolutely clear that the town is all for this slaughter.
Janet Lapey March 01, 2014 at 06:04 AM
Given the seriousness of the epidemic of tick-borne diseases, and given the fact that only deer removal has been shown to stop the epidemic, the deer cull should be a federal project, like the Manhattan Project.
Concerned March 01, 2014 at 06:47 AM
The government working on a contraceptive for the deer is aimed at eradicating deer from certain areas 100%. It's a terrible outcome of having the government control the breeding of wild life. They are already doing it with swans, as the USDA has a program whereby they shake the eggs of swans and kill the eggs before they are hatched. The animal advocates are playing into the hands of the USDA. A cull is far better as difficult a concept that is to understand. The government does not care if the breeding patterns of the deer herd is destroyed and the hierarchy of the herd is destroyed by controlling the breeding. They will eliminated deer is certain areas of the country which is the worst outcome. Wake up.
Ty Stroudsburg March 06, 2014 at 08:38 PM
Ukraine has Putin invading Crimea- WE have the Feds invading our natural habitat- What's next?
Argile March 08, 2014 at 09:51 AM
Are the local deer edible? If so seems like there's a good market for this.
Val March 09, 2014 at 06:50 PM
I have been shopping for everything in the town of Riverhead since the town of Southold started killing deer. I will not spend another cent east of Laurel Lane until the town of Southold understands that the majority of Southold residents never wanted this cull to happen. How can the officials who say they represent us sleep at night knowing that they are causing pain and suffering to beautiful, defenseless animals that people from out of town come here to enjoy. Where is your humanity? Have you lost touch with your souls for the almighty dollar? Don't you know yet that money will never bring you happiness? Everyone knows already that the cull is driven by money. If the officials who ordered this killing could stand by the USDA as they lured and slaughtered defenseless animals and their newborns and watched them die, this cull (kill) would be history. Killing at 3 a.m. is the same as killing at any other hour of the day. It will forever be wrong and immoral and has stained the reputation of a once beautiful town devoted to preservation of land and wildlife -- the same town I always wanted to call home.
Linda Goldsmith March 10, 2014 at 09:05 AM
From the Center for Disease Control: How the disease is spread: Lyme disease is spread by the bite of ticks of the genus Ixodes that are infected with Borrelia burgdorferi. The deer (or bear) tick, which normally feeds on the white-footed mouse, the white-tailed deer, other mammals, and birds, is responsible for transmitting Lyme disease bacteria to humans in the northeastern and north-central United States. (In these regions, this tick is also responsible for the spreading of babesiosis, a disease caused by a malaria-like parasite.) On the Pacific Coast, the bacteria are transmitted to humans by the western black-legged tick, and in the southeastern states possibly by the black-legged tick. Ixodes ticks are much smaller than common dog and cattle ticks. In their larval and nymphal stages, they are no bigger than a pinhead. Adult ticks are slightly larger. Research in the eastern United States has indicated that, for the most part, ticks transmit Lyme disease to humans during the nymph stage, probably because nymphs are more likely to feed on a person and are rarely noticed because of their small size (less than 2 mm). Thus, the nymphs typically have ample time to feed and transmit the infection (ticks are most likely to transmit infection after approximately 2 or more days of feeding). Tick larvae are smaller than the nymphs, but they rarely carry the infection at the time of feeding and are probably not important in the transmission of Lyme disease to humans. “Deer tick is a discredited, incorrect, obsolete name,” says Ostfeld. “But as long as you’re calling it the deer tick, what animal are you going to accuse of fostering it?” In his book, Ostfeld analyzes more than a dozen studies comparing deer numbers with tick numbers. In most, deer were either eradicated or nearly eradicated in the area being studied. Overall, the results were startling. Article in Boston Globe: "In the first study, done on Great Island, Cape Cod, beginning in 1982, a reduction in the deer herd from at least 30 to less than 10 not only didn’t decrease the number of larval and nymphal ticks scientists found on the white-footed mice they collected, but seemed to increase them. It wasn’t until the herd was down to a lone doe that the number of ticks on the mice decreased significantly. At Crane Reservation in Ipswich, after the deer population was reduced from 350 in 1985 to 50 in 1991, larval and nymphal tick numbers did decline – but soon increased again to pre-hunt levels, “despite the vastly reduced deer density,” says Ostfeld." Southold fearless leaders really thought this through.......Just sayin"!
cm March 13, 2014 at 10:03 AM
Val, I agree with your comment. Anyone who disagrees with this slaughter should close their wallet on southold. Money speaks louder than words. Boycott them!!!!
Val March 13, 2014 at 05:03 PM
Thank you, cm. It would be wonderful if hearts, souls and minds could triumph over money in Southold Town. Then we could do what we love here and good fortune would naturally follow.

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