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Southold Town Served With Temporary Restraining Order Aimed At Halting Deer Cull

The cull is expected to go on as scheduled in Southold, despite the legal action.

One animal advocate has kept her promise to commence legal action aimed at putting a halt to the deer cull in Southold.

Bridgehampton resident Wendy Chamberlin, of the Wildlife Preservation Coalition, vowed on Feb. 12 at a town board meeting to pursue legal action after the Southold Town board voted unanimously to designate $25,000 toward the deer cull.

Chamberlin confirmed on Friday that the papers had been filed and the litigation had commenced, as well as the temporary restraining order.

Chamberlin was proactive in protesting the deer cull in East Hampton; the East Hampton cull was called off for this year after anoutpouring of opposition and looming litigation.

On Friday evening, Southold Town Supervisor Scott Russell explained the town's next steps.

"We expect our counsel to be in court on Wednesday to defend the board's actions here," Russell said.

He reminded that the cull is actually being sponsored by the Long Island Farm Bureau; the agency is contracting with the United States Department of Agriculture's Wildlife Services division for the service.

"The legal action here is simply an effort to stop Southold Town from contributing resources to the effort," he said.

Russell said at the last meeting, the board accepted state environmental quality review act findings, then voted to allocate $25,000 to help offset  the expenses incurred by the LIFB.

"Whether or not the injunction sought is successful, I fully expect the cull to move forward," Russell said.

The cull is slated for late February, and could take place in the next few days or week, according to past reports; the actual dates and sites of the sharpshooter program will not be revealed to the public, to prevent protests, according to statements made at the last town board meeting.

Earlier this month, the Southold town board voted unanimously to support the project. Joe Gergela, executive director of the Long Island Farm Bureau, asked each of the five East End towns to contribute toward the program; the LIFB has a $250,000 grant. Southold Town's contribution is $25,000. No other East End towns opted into the plan.

"Southold Town is 100 percent in support of this program," Russell has said.

Despite a steady stream of protest by members of the hunting community who came forward to plea with the board to let them address the deer issue, for free, Russell said while the town would rather use local hunters and pointed to the program already in place, state legislation is currently so restrictive that local hunters are facing a roadblock. Russell said he would stand in solidarity with hunters to wage the battle for legislative reform.

Cutchogue resident Barbara McGowan stood up to passionately plea for the deer. Despite the fact that she is an NRA member and has no problem with guns, she said, "What they are going to do is cold-blooded murder." She quoted Albert Schweitzer, "Until we extend our compassion to all living things, humanity will find no peace." She added, "I pray for that peace here in Southold."

"My wife and I are vehemently opposed to this deer kill — it's kill, not cull," said Ben Schwab of Mattituck. "We resent our tax money going toward this."

Meanwhile, North Fork Environmental Council vice-president Dan Durett of Southold said from a film perspective, "Bambi has become the new 'Jaws.'"

Members of the group Hunters for Deer, LLC, founded by Mike Tessitore, came out in force to protest the plan and grill the board for answers.

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.


DrSique February 23, 2014 at 09:35 AM
Okay people, there may be some argument that the deer population is too large because we have overdeveloped. Tick borne illnesses is not one of them. The single largest reservoir for Lyme Disease is the White Footed Mouse and every other species is, at this time, a carrier. We can't possibly stem the growth of these infections by thinning wildlife!!!! As a matter of fact, reducing the deer herd may have exactly the opposite effect. Ticks that cannot find a deer to feed on WILL look for another host, possibly YOU. If East Enders want to be angry at the ineffective treatment of tick borne diseases, they should direct that anger mostly at government. Yeah, the same rocket scientists who have called on the "sharp shooter solution". The main reason that people are still suffering from long term Lyme is confluence of research, bureaucracy and corrupt funding, not deer. IMHO, the recently passed ACA will only make things worse. SAD!!!!!
Concerned February 23, 2014 at 09:57 AM
I am tired of reading that the federal or state government owns the wild life and that Southold is breaking the law with its wild life management plan. It is mis information and Southold as a province has right and obligation to manage its wild life. The concept of ownership by the people and management by federal, state and provincial governments is known as the public trust doctrine of wildlife. It’s one of the reasons why this country enjoys the greatest diversity, quality, and quantity of game animals and other wildlife in the world. The idea dates back to when America defeated the English during the Revolutionary War. When wildlife was transferred from the King to the new government and thus to the people, it nullified the centuries-old European model where wildlife was privately owned and hunting was reserved for the upper class. Since then, a series of Supreme Court rulings have firmly established the public trust as it relates to this country’s wildlife. So the town has an obligation to manage our deer herd not for today but for future generations. Any use of what the Wild Life Coalition advocates, birth control of the deer could very well hurt the deer herd with side effects and potential mutations which would be very foolish to risk the herd. Such measure would be a violation of the Public Trust Doctrine. Culling a specific number of deer is the best way to manage the herd and keep it healthy.
Concerned February 23, 2014 at 10:30 AM
The proposed alternate methods of controlling the deer herd could permanently hurt the deer herd and here is some research which summarizes the risks associated with wild life birth control. It is very risky to the herd and the Wild Life a coalition is way off base. Bred to death... Research utilizing immunocontraceptives has already been conducted and documented with foxes, skunks, beavers and horses with less than impressive results! In one case with wild horses the stallions were actually given vasectomies. This caused serious behavioral and social side effects which resulted in greater mortality of dominant stallions. What basically happened was since the mares were not impregnated, they kept cycling. Thus, the stallions were literally breeding themselves to death (Whoa, what a way to go!). Some other may say that when we compare horses to deer we are comparing apples to oranges, but are we? Most biologists believe the same scenario would happen with deer. Since bucks already lose as much as 25 percent of their body weight during the rut, extending the rut six or more months would certainly reduce a buck's vigor/nutritional level and lower his resistance to illness. From an energetics stand point, dominant bucks would continue to chase subordinate bucks away in order to protect their "territory", thus reducing any stored energy they need to make it through the winter months. Simply put, chances are these bucks will not survive. Thus, survival of the fittest bucks would no occur because of the secondary side effects of contraceptives. So the best method to ensure a healthy deer population into the future is the deer cull. The ideas of the Wild life Coalition are dangerous to the deer herd and using such methods a violation of the Public Trust Doctrine. Southold go ahead with the proven method of herd management and perform a safe cull for the sake of the deer herd, future generations and current citizens.
Benja Schwartz February 23, 2014 at 10:45 AM
Lisa, How about reporting some facts? What does the EAF Southold Town Board voted for say? My FOIL request the day following the vote (2.12.14) was answered in a letter a week later (2.19.14) I was informed that it will take over a month (until 3.14.14) to disclose the documents Southold Town Board already voted on. Do you think it is right to keep SEQR actions secret?
Concerned February 23, 2014 at 11:00 AM
There are no secrets to this action. Culling by sharpshooters is an accepted method to reduce the deer herd according the the NYSDEP. What is not acceptable by the NYSDEP is doing nothing and allowing the herd to starve and be sickly. That is cruelty.
John Greene February 23, 2014 at 11:40 AM
Since when is Bridgehampton a village in The Town of Southold? If Wendy Chamberlin wants to go after The Town of Southampton regarding animal/wildlife related issues, she is more than welcome to do so, but she should not have any say whatsoever in what goes on in The Town of Southold. If a Southold Town resident wants to file suit in regards to the deer cull, then they should do so and let the courts decide the matter, but Wendy Chamberlin has no right to file a suit against Southold Town if she is not a resident. Policies and laws passed by Southold Town have zero influence on her as a Bridgehampton Resident. This suit should be thrown out.
Concerned February 23, 2014 at 11:50 AM
Well stated John Greene. Yes spot on. The doctrine of Public Trust places wild life management policy at the local level NOT the State, through Citizen Panels and input by local citizens. It is designed this way for many reasons and one is to keep politics out of local wild life management. So Wendy's action is not sustainable and will not stand. Local Southold citizens have correctly concluded the cull is an appropriate approach to reduce the herd for the good of the herd, future generations and its current citizens. Well done Southold, now let's get it done.
Northforker February 23, 2014 at 12:57 PM
Concerned, I see you have taken to copying and pasting your remarks from one board onto another. I guess if you can't get the desired response you seek, try, try again. Or, is it a case of he who shouts loudest?? In any event, I AM a local Southold citizen and I have not concluded that the cull is an appropriate approach. So please, in future, do not presume to speak for ME.
Concerned February 23, 2014 at 02:00 PM
Northforker, Yes since there were two threads on the same topic I felt it useful to share on both threads. I am not shouting but attempting to shed some well needed thoughts on the subject. So much mis information and spin. If the birth control policies of The Wild Life coalition were ever implemented the damage to the deer herd would potentially be enormous impacting mother nature's deer mating cycles, behaviors of stags and does, and on and in. I certainly never said we had uniformity of consensus on this matter and one reason is the lack of accurate information on this important issue. Best to you.
Michael Tessitore February 23, 2014 at 08:06 PM
Mr. Greene, Check the "suit", the petitioners are Southold residents. The majority of Southold residents and Southold hunters, would prefer to handle the situation locally and not waste NYS taxpayer money.
Concerned February 23, 2014 at 08:18 PM
Southold hunters be aware that the end game of the Wild Life Coalition is to stop all deer hunting. You are in bed with folks you believe are you aligned with, but you are going down the primrose path!
Frank T February 23, 2014 at 08:21 PM
End deer hunting on LI. It's barbaric!
John J. Rasweiler IV February 23, 2014 at 09:19 PM
Concerned is absolutely correct about the possible health risk to does of continued reproductive cycling after the administration of immunocontraceptive vaccines. Speaking as a trained reproductive physiologist, I and others have observed that continued cycling, in lieu of pregnancies, can be harmful (even deadly) in other species. Some expert veterinary pathologists are well aware of the problem. So far as I can determine, this potential downside of the use of immunocontraceptive vaccines in deer has never been adequately investigated.
Frank T February 23, 2014 at 09:22 PM
The majority of hunters want an out of control deer population and do not give a damn about the health of Southold residents.
John J. Rasweiler IV February 23, 2014 at 10:20 PM
Supervisor Russell, the Town of Southold Deer Committee, and now County Legislator Al Krupski have expended great effort over a number of years to obtain changes in NYS hunting regulations that would enable our recreational hunting community to do more about our deer problem. NYS DEC harvest records clearly indicate that these efforts, thus far, have not been productive. The harvests in recent years have essentially remained flat, while all of the problems caused by far too many deer remain unabated. It is fine to say that "a majority of Southold residents and Southold hunters would prefer to handle the situation locally", but NYS hunting regulations presently do not permit that to be done effectively.
Joan February 23, 2014 at 11:02 PM
If "hunters" had not killed off all of the predator animals to stick their heads on their walls and their skins on their floors they wouldn't have a problem with prey animals. Nature is a balance and clearly if you have too many deer your ecosystem is out of balance. I say disallow hunters to kill for fun, which the deer cull is, and bring back some predators. That will take care of the excess deer, rabbit and other prey animal problem. Also the stray dog and cat populations which all of you hunter types hate as well. If the town has to spend $25,000. to rid the county of animals that "hunters" will happily kill for free, I would recommend taking a closer look at your politicians.
Benja Schwartz February 24, 2014 at 12:15 AM
How much is Suffolk County contributing to the sharpshooting kitty?
John J. Rasweiler IV February 24, 2014 at 07:32 AM
I should have noted that the potential for continued reproductive cycling to create health problems for the does is limited to the PZP immunocontraceptive vaccines. By lengthening the breeding season, these vaccines may also increase the frequency of deer-vehicular collisions. Contrary to what many advocates say, this approach is still experimental and not yet ready for broad field deployment.
ChooseHumane EastEnd February 24, 2014 at 07:50 PM
Southold is ground zero for a hijacked wildlife policy on Long Island. We, who were once farm friendly, are increasingly noting that the farm policy is a deadly business. The farm/wine lobby is grabbing more and more of the public purse and power. It is also failing in its stewardship of wildlife. The money for the USDA deer project would be better spent on vaccine research, as insect-born diseases are a daunting global problem. The fear of deer accidents would be better solved by cautious driving, solid insurance policies, and some mental health treatment for the post-traumatic-stress-syndrome that seems to be underlying this deer hysteria. Finally, in its persistent dismissal of non-lethal opportunities, and the equity of non-lethal advocates among East End stakeholders, the farm/wine lobby (and Southold along with it) are poised to reverse whatever good will it has attained. You who call the deer "pests" miss the point: to many of us they are neighbors. Wildlife is East End Life, not #LiveOnTheVine or #LIWinterfest, which in 2014 alone has absorbed more than $500,000 of New York State funding. Maybe if the East End put that money into higher education rather than subsidizing the economic welfare of private interests, we would see more wildlife friendly solutions in the #LIWineCountry dream machine. As things stand, now, Southold has invited all sorts of negative reactions. No #NorthFolk #LIWine! Did you really not see that coming?
John J. Rasweiler IV February 24, 2014 at 08:33 PM
I do not think we need Choose Humane to advise us on how to properly manage our natural environment. This past September we had two of the premier botanists in the Northeast tour our forests in the Town of Southold - Thomas Rawinski of the U.S. Forest Service and Stephen Young, Chief Botanist of the State of New York. Mr. Rawinski also has impeccable credentials as a conservationist. Next month, he will be awarded the Integrity in Conservation Award by the New England Society of American Foresters. Both men advised us that our forests are in dire shape because of over-browsing by far, far too many deer. I think we should accept their expert guidance.
Rose Kay February 25, 2014 at 08:15 AM
John IV Once again you prove the world is full of educated derelicts who are ill advised on this important matter.
John Greene February 25, 2014 at 10:22 AM
@Joan: You said: "If "hunters" had not killed off all of the predator animals to stick their heads on their walls and their skins on their floors they wouldn't have a problem with prey animals. Nature is a balance and clearly if you have too many deer your ecosystem is out of balance. I say disallow hunters to kill for fun, which the deer cull is, and bring back some predators. That will take care of the excess deer, rabbit and other prey animal problem. Also the stray dog and cat populations which all of you hunter types hate as well." I am hoping there is a bit of satire in your post… Are you advocating that we bring in large predators to kill the deer rather than have hunters kill the deer? What predators would you have them bring in? Wolves? Coyotes? Cougars/pumas? If you thought the public outcry was bad over the town allowing hunters to cull the deer herds, can you imagine what it would be like when we inform the public that we are going to be dropping a healthy number of large predators into the local ecosystem to kill off some of the deer and bring the system back to a point of stasis. As a parent, I would rather have the hunters out there killing the deer as opposed to a pack of wild animals that could potentially decide that the local kids look more appetizing and much slower and easier to hunt then the deer. Long Island is far too populated at this point for the introduction of natural (nonhuman) predators to be a realistic solution. I agree that past hunting regulations (or the lack there of) did cause all of the large predatory animals in the area to be removed, but at this point there is nothing that can be done to bring them back. There are still some smaller predators in the area such as foxes and hawks that help to take care of the smaller prey such as the rabbits, mice, rats, etc, but the deer only have one predator on Long Island at this point. As you said, nature requires a balance to be sustained, but unfortunately humans have thrown off that balance. The only way to bring the ecosystem back into some state of stasis is to have humans address the situation. The end result has to be the reduction of the deer population. With that being the case, maybe we can find a way to put the cull to good use. There are a number of low income families and homeless individuals that could benefit from the cull. If the meat from the culled deer could be donated to food pantries/distributions and other outreach programs such as Maureen’s Haven, we could help feed the less fortunate North Fork residents while simultaneously bringing the deer population to a more stable level. This is in essence the same idea you proposed above by having predators kill and eat the deer, just without actually bringing in the large, nonhuman predators. The deer would be going to good use and the ecosystem would benefit; I see it as a win-win.
Rose Kay February 25, 2014 at 10:48 AM
There is no such thing as wildlife management. Humans cannot manage nature. It is unjust, stupid and contemptible that the USDA/W/S made up entirely of hunters and hunt supporters like the Long Island Farm Bureau —make decisions about the fate of wild animals. That would be akin to allowing pedophiles to write child protection laws .Do hunters eat their kills? Yes. But do hunters hunt for food? No! They hunt for the thrill of the kill. They receive a rush. A super-shot of adrenaline. It's bloodlust and dominance. It's arrogance and selfishness. It's hatred and brutality. It's dishonor and viciousness. It's murder and it's obscene. I will not drink or serve local wine and produce if the Long Island Farm Bureau doesn't stop this massive and cruel deer kill plan for Southold. Choose Humane East End .
Frank T February 25, 2014 at 12:05 PM
What a drama queen. So don't serve or drink local wines, that's your decision. Actually in your bizarro world the animals would take over and destroy all farms, vineyards and vegetation so we would not have anything to eat. Maybe you prefer soylent green!
D L F February 25, 2014 at 12:14 PM
Frank, there's this great invention I know about. It's called a fence! How about the farmers spend the $1MM in fencing grants they received to do just that. By the way, word is Wholefoods may not be serving any local foods produced in Southold soon. That may hurt the local farmers/wineries more than the deer.
Frank T February 25, 2014 at 01:07 PM
That would be Wholefoods loss. I hope they don't import Pesticide soaked veggies from Mexico. But you probably would enjoy that since you hate local farms.
Benja Schwartz February 25, 2014 at 09:30 PM
Ooops! Listening to Supervisor Russell on this issue is like asking a fox if you should fix the fence around a chicken coop. Contrary to the coverage of the Supervisor's "opinion", the reality is that Southold would be; Breaking FOIL, SEQR and Open Meetings laws if the cull proceeds. Southold has a democratic republic duty to revoke the Resolutions finding no environmental impacts because no environmental impact statement, neither an EAF (Environmental Assessment Form*) nor an EIS**. * B. SEQR Handbook: Type II Actions http://www.dec.ny.gov/permits/39800.html **http://www.dec.ny.gov/permits/6204.html
John J. Rasweiler IV February 25, 2014 at 09:32 PM
The plan has always been to donate as much of the venison harvested in the cull as possible to the less fortunate. In recent years, civic-minded hunters in the Town of Southold have donated over 17000 pounds of venison for this purpose.
Benja Schwartz February 25, 2014 at 09:35 PM
I forgot to mention. Despite being reported by the press to be in favor of proceeding with the proposed cull despite a court ordered halt, Supervisor Russell did not raise the topic of the deer cull at the Town Board Meeting Today. I specifically assked him if gthe cull was going to and he gave the impression it was, judge for yourself by downloading the video from http://southoldtown.iqm2.com/Citizens/Media.aspx
Benja Schwartz February 26, 2014 at 09:31 AM
JJR IV; Have you read the LIFB and USDA APHIS WS "Work Plan"? I received it this AM, after months of requests. If you are ready to ignore the blatant disinformation campaign of our local government maybe you don't want to bother with facts, but if you are interested in truth consider the position of Supervisor Russell that Southold Town is not taking any action, that the LIFB and USDA APHIS WS is doing ALL the work. Without the support by, and participation of, Southold Town the cull will not happen here.

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