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Deer Hunting

Bruce Tilden, above, owner of Tilden Lane Farm in Greenlawn, holds up a deer antler prop at the Oct. 10 Town of Huntington board meeting. Photo by Kyle Barr

Hunting season is open in Huntington, though local farmers and residents are at odds over whether the town will soon allow special permits for bowhunting on deer after the season ends.

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation currently allows for people to apply for Deer Damage Permits that would allow residents to hunt deer if they can show the animals are negatively impacting agriculture, horticulture, biodiversity or are a threat to human health and safety. The Town of Huntington currently does not allow for these licenses, but some local farmers have been lobbying the town to let them apply for one.

“I’m trying to keep this business alive for my grandchildren,” said Bruce Tilden, the operator of Tilden Lane Farm in Greenlawn. “If it were a bug I could spray it, if it were a rat I could trap it, but because it’s Bambi, I can’t do anything about it.”

Tilden said that his farm, which sells Christmas trees, has had problems of deer rubbing the bark off his trees and doing damage to saplings for many years, mostly before the deer hunting season opens up Oct. 1. He said he had called the DEC but was told he could not apply for a DDP because the Huntington town code prohibits it.

A hunter waits for deer near Cindy Gavel’s house in Asharoken. Photo from Cindy Gavel

Residents living on the edge of wooded property feel giving local hunters the potential to hunt beyond the normal season could only exacerbate what they see is close-proximity hunting going on near their homes. Several Asharoken and Eaton’s Neck residents spoke in an open hearing during a town board meeting Oct. 10 about their issues with longbow hunters near their homes.

“With these permits the danger of hunting would exist all year long” Eaton’s Neck resident Christine Ballow said. “If this is all year long you have a much higher risk for the community… Instead of hunting we could neuter the bucks.”

In 2015, the Huntington town board voted to allow longbow hunting of deer on private property throughout the town during the regular longbow hunting season Oct. 1 to Jan. 31. The hunting still requires a DEC permit.

State regulations also require hunters to be 150 feet from other private property. Though for some like Asharoken resident Cindy Gavel the footage between her and hunters is not enough to provide safety for herself or for the kids in the community.

“It’s ridiculous how many tree stands are in this neighborhood,” Gavel said. “You can’t even feel safe to walk down the street.”

In 2016, Gavel watched as a buck with an arrow in its back leaped her backyard fence before moving into her yard and bleeding to death.

“If they would change the regulations to be 500 feet from private property it would not affect hunters,” she said.

Other nearby townships have enforced greater footage between property and deer hunters. In December 2017, East Quogue-based hunting advocacy group Hunters for Deer sued The Town of Smithtown over its maximum limitations of 500 feet between hunters and private property, saying it was illegal, inconsistent with DEC regulations and that it restricted deer hunting in many parts of the town. A New York State Supreme Court judge dropped the case saying the town was in their right to restrict the footage, according to court filings. The hunting group announced on their Facebook page they would appeal.

If it were a bug I could spray it, if it were a rat I could trap it, but because it’s Bambi, I can’t do anything about it.”

— Bruce Tilden

A spokesperson for the state DEC said that 135 DDPs have been issued in Suffolk County in 2018 and that any complaints about permits or hunting can be sent to the NYS Environmental Conservation Police for investigation.

Ballow asked the town council why Huntington wasn’t considering making the proposed law restricted to commercial farmers alone, but Supervisor Chad Lupinacci (R) said the change in town code was to bring the town into accordance with current DEC and state law, and that it should only apply to farmers who need to deal with deer outside the regular hunting season.

“It’s allowing farmers to get special waivers to take care of their property,” Lupinacci said.

Councilwoman Joan Cergol (D) said she wished the town council would spend more time reviewing any issues with the new law regarding who could apply for a DDP.

“I question what constitutes a ‘farmer,’” Cergol said. “Is it people with a backyard vegetable garden? We should tighten it to provide clarity — see what we can do to find middle ground.”

Lupinacci said that while the local law does not allow these licenses, the state DEC could issue DDP licenses despite town code. Huntington Town Attorney Nicholas Ciappetta said he believed the DEC could do that, but as far as he knew they haven’t yet.

“The state law trumps the town code in the case there are any inconsistencies, so they could disregard the town code,” Ciappetta said. “But they haven’t so far.”

The board did not give an exact date on when the code change would come to a vote.

Correction: Christine Ballow’s quote was changed to reflect more of her original argument.

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Some Three Village residents became concerned when they received an advertisement for a deer management program offering its services. File photo

Recently, Setauket residents living just outside of Old Field received a postcard that raised some eyebrows, and so they reached out to The Village Times Herald with their concerns.

Long Island Wildlife Control, a group of bowhunters, sent out a postcard to Three Village residents advertising its free deer management program for private property owners. The card listed the program as New York State Department of Conservation Nuisance Wildlife Control licensed. With this license, the group can charge a fee and can hunt with a homeowner’s permission outside of hunting season, according to the postcard, if the owner feels the animals are a nuisance.

Jean Darrow, Village of Old Field animal warden and resident, who is opposed to the hunting, said she has heard from local residents who are both for and against deer hunting.

“If it’s legal, there’s nothing we can do,” she said, adding it disturbs her that the hunters involved in the program can hunt even outside of hunting season.

Frank Kentoffio from Patchogue, who is part of the LIWC deer management program, said he and others have hunted on the North Shore for years and are familiar with the overpopulation of deer and the potential problems that arise from them, including tick-borne diseases and the animals eating plants.

“We’re just hunters that are trying to reduce the numbers so federal sharpshooters don’t come in and wipe them out,” Kentoffio said, adding the members of the group are highly trained and must pass a qualification test every 30 days.

He said when asked to hunt on private property, members of the program first check out the location to ensure neighbors’ houses are 150 feet or more away. If not, and they cannot secure the neighbor’s permission, they do not hunt on the property in question.

He said when they hunt on a residential property, the hunters set up a central area and don’t wear camouflaged clothing. They also use plastic sleds to put the deer in to prevent leaving blood behind.

“We try to keep everything as low key as possible,” he said.

Kentoffio said the hunters do everything possible to keep deer, which may travel from about 30 to 40 yards after being shot with a bow, from running on a neighbor’s property. If the animal does, he said the hunters will ask the property owner before stepping in their yard. He said he has never had an animal run into the road.

The group focuses on shooting does, which it believes is the best method to reduce the population, he said, unlike the average bowhunter who may go out to shoot a buck or two just for a trophy.

“By shooting a buck, another buck is just going to come in and impregnate all the does,” he said. “Shooting a buck doesn’t really help the problem because each doe has between two and three fawns every year.”

Darrow said she believes the best solution is to neuter the bucks because it’s easier, and they can get multiple does impregnated at a time. She also said another solution is hormones for the does to stop the estrous cycle.

“It’s not being painful to anything,” Darrow said. “It’s just stopping something that doesn’t have to happen to as many animals.”

She said there are ways to deal with deer, including putting up a 7-foot fence around plants, adding homeowners should check with their town’s or village’s regulations before installing one. The animal warden said rutting season, when the bucks run after the does to mate, will soon begin, and drivers should be cautious on the roads after dusk. She also said the deer tend to stay away from properties with dogs, and if humans make noise when they see them, they will run away.

Deer rutting season means more of the animals running out on local roads. Photo by Rohma Abbas

An East Quogue-based hunting group is taking aim at Smithtown town code that regulates the use of firearms, including longbows.

Hunters for Deer filed a lawsuit against the Town of Smithtown in New York State Supreme Court last month, claiming the town’s required firearms code is illegal and inconsistent with state regulations set by the Department of Environmental Conservation.

“The town is stepping on the DEC’s toes,” said Michael Tessitore, president of Hunters for Deer. “We are saying that we already have laws being regulated by the DEC, the town is muddying the waters.”

Tessitore said he and his fellow hunters take issue with the town’s definition of a firearm because it differs from the DEC’s definition and increases the required setback, or distance hunters can be from a dwelling.

Under Section 160 of town code, Smithtown defines a firearm as “a weapon which acts by force of gunpowder or from which a shot is discharged by force of an explosion, as well as an air rifle, an air gun, a BB gun, a slingshot and a bow and arrow.” It was last updated in January 1990.

By comparison, the DEC’s regulations recognize rifles, pistols, shotguns and specific types of airguns as firearms, but doesn’t include longbows which are used for deer hunting.

Due to this difference, Hunters for Deer is suing saying the Town of Smithtown’s required 500-foot setback from the nearest dwelling to discharge a firearm is illegal, citing that New York State reduced the setback for longbows from 500 to 150 feet in 2014.

The difference in the laws illegally restrains hunters from shooting deer within Smithtown or face possible prosecution, according to the lawsuit filed Dec. 7, and denies them their civil right to participate in hunting activity.

“I have a lot of property owners from Smithtown who call me and ask me to hunt their property, but when they find out the setback they don’t want to do it,” Tessitore said. “It causes the property owners to not want to cause any conflict with their community and get tickets for an otherwise legal activity.”

Christian Killoran, a Westhampton Beach attorney representing Hunters for Deer, sent a letter to the Town of Smithtown advising it of the issues with its code, according to Tessitore, but no action was taken.

Nicole Garguilo, newly appointed town spokeswoman, said that town attorney Matthew Jakubowski was unable to comment on pending litigation.

The town’s response to the lawsuit filed Dec. 18 stated the town was advised of the hunting organization’s position, but its “actions were lawful and within statutory constitutional authority.”

Tessitore said his group previously filed a lawsuit against the Village of Sag Harbor when it attempted to make a law that would have banned hunting within its borders, getting village officials to revisit and later change it. Tessitore said he hopes this lawsuit will have similar effect on the Town of Smithtown, causing town offices to amend town code to be more inline with the state DEC’s regulations.

“The only way to get a municipality’s attention is through a lawsuit and let a court decide who is right and who is wrong,” he said.

Deer hunting via long bow has been a controversial topic in Huntington Town since first permitted in September 2015. Stock photo

Huntington Town Hall was as tense as a drawn bowstring as residents agreed to disagree on bow hunting as a means to address deer overpopulation.

The Town Board held its public hearing Sept. 19 on proposed changes to rules regulating the use of longbows for hunting.

The proposed changes, sponsored by Councilwoman Tracey Edwards (D), take aim at further restricting the use of a long bow under the town’s firearm regulations, not directly regulating deer hunting, which falls under the oversight of New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.

One major change would expand the definition of what is considered a dwelling to include farm buildings, school buildings, school playgrounds, public structures,  occupied factories or churches, as hunters would be prohibited from firing an arrow within 150-feet of these structures.

Diana Cherryholmes, an Eaton’s Neck resident of 15 years, said she has concerns about the potential of hunters accidentally shooting a resident, their children or pets.

“I’m very uncomfortable during deer hunting season taking a walk…”

— Diana Cherryholmes

“Currently, I’m very uncomfortable during deer hunting season taking a walk, riding my bike and I’m scared for the kids playing outside,” Cherryholmes said.

Her concerns were echoed by  Eaton’s Neck residents Charlotte Koons and Christine Ballow. Town officials first voted to permit bow hunting in September 2015 to see if it would help address issues of deer overpopulation in the shoreline communities. The proposed changes are in response to safety concerns raised by community residents about unknown persons traveling through properties and arrows being fired in close proximity to houses and people.

“I think this is a trial that didn’t work,” Ballow said. “I think the 150-foot setback is hard to comply with given the density that we have. [The] density is not right for this type of hunting in this type of situation.”

Doug Whitcomb, speaking on behalf of Eaton Harbors Corporation civic group, said hunters realize there are additional efforts that must be made in a small community  where they must interact with neighbors who don’t agree with the sport.

“We are challenged by it as well,” Whitcomb said. “We similarly feel compromised when we have people around us when we’ve been in the woods since 5 a.m. trying to do a service to the community.”

Mike Lewis, a volunteer for NYSDEC who has taught hunter education classes since 2006, told town officials the five-year average for hunting-related accidental shooting incidents in New York is 20 to 25 people a year — a total for hunters using firearms, shotguns, pistols and bows.

“The majority of these incidents are two-party accidents where two or more people are hunting in close proximity and someone makes a mistake,” Lewis said.

He said there has only been one reported accident which involved an accidental shooting while long bow hunting, involving an elderly father and son pair. During that incident the father mistook his son for a deer and shot him in the leg, resulting in a minor injury.

“To understand our frustration and fears, understand we are taking part in an activity that’s as old as mankind itself.”

— John Marcinka

“If you put in your time and practice, you can tell a deer with antlers from a female with no antlers, or someone’s cat, dog or child,” Lewis said. “The last thing anyone wants to see is any innocent person get hurt.”

Several avid deer hunters spoke out to ask town officials to continue to permit bow hunting, despite the regulatory changes, believing they provide a valuable community service.

“Your arrow is like a surgical utensil as it pierces right through, and is the most humane way of taking out a deer,” said Joseph Wine, a hunter from Eaton’s Neck. “I think hunting is one of the best ways to control the deer. It’s free and it’s cheap.”

Huntington hunter John Marcinka requested additional clarification from the board on the proposed change that would require hunters to provide written notification to the town’s Department of Public Safety and local police departments prior to beginning a hunt.

“To understand our frustration and fears, understand we are taking part in an activity that’s as old as mankind itself,” Marcinka said. “When we’ve gone hunting on other people’s property in the past, we get permission from the farmer or landowner and it’s done with a handshake and nothing in writing.”

Supervisor Frank Petrone (D) directed Marcinka and other hunters to speak with the town attorney to work out specifics on how the written notice must be sent to property owners, how far in advance, and how frequently.

Town board members did not vote on the proposed changes Sept. 19. Their next town board meeting is not until Oct. 17, after the Oct. 1 start of the 2017 hunting season.

“I support amending the law as moving forward to a more permanent solution for relationships between people who don’t want deer hunting, like myself, and the hunters,” Cherryholmes said. “There must be a solution to help control the deer population and for the residents to have peace of mind.”

Deer hunting via long bow has been a controversial topic in Huntington Town since first permitted in September 2015. Stock photo

By Sara-Megan Walsh

Deer hunters may need to memorize a new set of regulations in the Town of Huntington before the start of the 2017 hunting season.

Huntington Town Board has scheduled a public hearing for its Sept. 19 meeting on a series of proposed changes affecting the use of longbows for deer hunting.

“Over the past few years we’ve learned some things that have gone on during deer hunting season and want to make it safer for our residents,” Councilwoman Tracey Edwards (D) said.

The proposed changes take aim at restricting the use of a longbow under the town’s firearms regulations, not directly regulating deer hunting which falls under the oversight of New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.

Edwards, sponsor of the legislation, said the changes include requiring all hunters to provide written notification to the Town’s Department of Public Safety and the police department prior to hunting and expanding the definition of what’s considered a dwelling.

“If [hunters] are going to use the longbow we want to ensure that there’s written notification to the police department as we’ve had instances of people walking around the neighborhood, armed, and no one knows who they are,” Edwards said.

The proposed code changes will also expand the definition of a “dwelling”  to include “farm building or farm structures actually occupied or used, school building, school playground, public structure, or occupied factory or church” to prevent hunters from firing at deer within 150 feet of these buildings unless they are the property owner.

“Hunting is already regulated by the DEC so the town … is outside of their scope.”

— Michael Tessitore

If the proposed amendments are passed, anyone violating the regulations would face up to a $500 fine per day and prosecution by the town attorney’s office.

The  public hearing is set to take place mere days before the start of the 2017 deer hunting season, which runs from Oct. 1 to Jan. 31 under NYSDEC regulations. Town spokesman A.J. Carter said the town board will have the option to immediately enact the proposed code changes Sept. 19 if there are no substantial objections.

The board’s decision to permit bow hunting in September 2015 remains a contentious issue among local residents, particularly in the areas of Eatons Neck and Asharoken, which routinely deal with deer overpopulation.

“We’ve been having big issues with hunting with it since it began in Asharoken and Eatons Neck,” said Nadine Dumser, an Asharoken Village resident.

Dumser, who also owns property in Eatons Neck, said she has dealt with hunters who did not properly notify her as a homeowner they were active in the area but also entered her yard without permission.

“We would call police and complain about hunters being on our property,” she said. “When they finally do come, they are pretty powerless to do anything.”

Others believe that the Town’s efforts to further regulate longbow use oversteps its legal authority.

Michael Tessitore, founder of the nonprofit  Hunters for Deer, said the more than 85 hunters who are members of his organization will continue to follow the DEC regulations.

“Hunting is already regulated by the DEC so the town, by taking these extra steps to regulate hunting, is outside of their scope,” Tessitore said. “I believe they are going to open themselves up to litigation.”

Tessitore, who is a licensed nuisance wildlife control operator, said he helps manage more than 100 private properties including areas in Eatons Neck, Fort Salonga, and Smithtown to make agreements between hunters and homeowners who support hunting as a form a deer population management. He’s also worked with  Southampton Town to design a deer population management plan.

“I support deer hunting as a management tool,” Tessitore said. “It’s the only proven effective management tool for the overpopulation of deer.”

Photo by Wendy Mercier

The aim of allowing deer hunting to control the population in Asharoken and Eaton’s Neck has not exactly hit the target for many Huntington residents.

Members of the public expressed their continuing concerns over the policy enacted last year, which allowed bow hunting of deer in Eaton’s Neck during hunting season, during the March 21 town board meeting, and town officials assured them they understand many are not satisfied with the current law.

“I know there has to be a better solution because I think the solution that’s in place now is causing a hardship for the taxpayers and the people that live here,” Cindy Gabel, an Eaton’s Neck resident, said.

Gabel said she and friends have witnessed hunters assembling tree stands at night, a method to hunt deer, and she fears hunters are out when there is almost no visibility.

“It’s really dark out there at night and they’re hunting out there at night — I am sure of it,” she said. “I think one of the troubles you have is there really isn’t anyone besides the residents — I am trying to do it myself — going out at night and seeing if illegal hunting is happening. There’s not someone patrolling the streets and the police that are patrolling can’t really do anything about it anyway. There’s an awful big burden on us, the residents, about the deer hunting and it’s not really solving the problem.”

Gabel said whenever she calls the police about possible illegal hunting they instruct her to call the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, and those officers are allowed to deal with any illegal hunters. But Gabel said it usually takes the DEC officers more than a half hour to get to the scene, leaving the chance of catching hunters slim.

Gabel was not alone in her fear night hunting could lead to dangerous situations.

“My fear too is that after 60 years on Locust Lane a stray arrow may mistake me or you for its quiver, so I ask you to deliver us from men in tree stands, from those deer slayers in tree stands,” Charlotte Koons, an Eaton’s Neck resident, said at the meeting.

Huntington Town Supervisor Frank Petrone (D) assured the residents the town is listening.

“We’re looking at many, many different things because we are all concerned with the hunting,” Petrone said at the meeting. “We are looking at this very seriously because we know there’s a problem and we know that there are other problems as a result of this happening. So we share your concern, and the hunting situation that exists does not seem to solve the problem.”

The main problem the bow hunting for deer was intended to solve was the overpopulation in areas like Asharoken and Eaton’s Neck. Residents attended multiple town hall meetings last year citing their fear of deer causing car accidents and spreading Lyme disease as tick carriers.

But some community members feel this solution was not the right way to go.

“This is going to be the worst tick season we’ve had … the deer yes they carry ticks — so do we and so do white mice,” Gabel said. “We could kill all the deer in Eatons Neck, we’re still going to have the problem of the ticks and the Lyme disease so what do we do then? If someone gets killed in the process what have we all accomplished here?”

Councilwoman Tracey Edwards (D) said she and Asharoken officials intend to work together to try and find a new solution.

“Mayor [Greg] Letica is committed to working with us and the town attorney to see where we could have some common ground and also bring a proposal for you [Petrone] to review and consider for an amendment that would care for some of the issues and safety concerns,” she said.

At a March village board meeting Letica confirmed he spoke with Edwards about a possible change to the law.

“I had a phone conversation with Huntington Councilwoman Tracey Edwards about the status of the draft law to amend the existing town deer ordinance,” he said at the meeting, “Councilwoman Edwards informed me that once a draft is complete she will share it with the village.”

Photo by Wendy Mercier

The deer debate has hit Head of the Harbor.

Residents sounded off on the ongoing deer management discussion at Village Hall last Wednesday night, and after hearing residents’ concerns with the initial resolution proposed last month to allow more hunting, the board of trustees withdrew consideration.

The law was originally written to amend the village code to enable hunting of deer pursuant to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation authorization. But trustees said it was rescinded so as to allow more time for thought before action.

“We retracted that law and it is completely off the table,” trustee Judith C. Ogden said.

The board created an advisory committee that will consider and report to the board on a local deer management program. The committee is expected to give a report to the board by Dec. 31, Ogden said.

Mayor Douglas A. Dahlgrad said it is his hope that the committee will meet with other villages and towns to see how they are handling their deer issues, as well as with the DEC. Residents continued to voice their distress for how the board will handle this issue in the upcoming months.

George Kaloyanides, a Head of the Harbor resident, said this issue has garnered more interest than any other in the 30 years he’s lived here. He said he hopes that this issue is dealt with as transparently as possible as it goes forward.

“I hope you [the board] would consider expanding this charge to include polling residents of the village to see how many people see the deer as a problem,” Kaloyanides said. “In the intent of eliminating concerns, I think a majority vote of the proposed actions would help.”

John Lendino, a Head of the Harbor resident, questioned the board’s judgment for the handling of communications on this issue. He said that notices of the public hearing were hidden under several other documents on bulletin postings around the town.

“All these people tonight wouldn’t even be here if it wasn’t for me,” Lendino said.

Jeffrey Malkan, a Head of the Harbor resident, said that a vote should be included for this issue on this year’s ballot so voters can say if they approve.

“The final word should belong to the people,” Malkan said. “In the interest of avoiding controversy, it should go back to the residents as a referendum.”

Chairman Michael Utevsky will head the committee along with eight other members and trustee liaison Deputy Mayor Daniel White.

A public hearing was held in early September where residents were concerned not only with the proposal, but also the way village hall handled alerting citizens on the issue.

Julie Korneffel, a Head of the Harbor resident, was unhappy with how little notice she was given about this issue before it came to town hall.

“There is a big concern for transparency now,” Korneffel said. She also felt that the code written “seemed purposely vague.”

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Photo by Wendy Mercier

At what point does a neighborhood nuisance become a problem that warrants lethal action?

A few North Shore communities have been debating whether to legalize hunting deer in their residential areas, after complaints relating to an increase in their region’s deer population. Hunting advocates say the ticks deer carry have been transmitting Lyme disease to humans; the animals are eating their garden plants; and the deer are moving traffic hazards.

As a result of the complaints, Huntington Town officials have given residents of Eaton’s Neck the green light — under certain restrictions — to hunt deer with longbows on their own properties. Officials in Belle Terre Village, after receiving emotional pushback from many community members, did not take action on a similar proposed hunting law. The issue is still up in the air in Head of the Harbor, where officials recently floated a proposal to allow hunting there as well.

There are many problems with allowing people to hunt deer in a residential location: It will not have the desired effect; it is an unreasonable and disproportionate response to nature; and there is great potential for negative consequences.

It’s not a problem for nature to occur around Long Island, it’s merely a fact of life. We hear residents bemoan the loss of open space and cry out against development. Well, this isn’t “The Sims” life simulation video game — we can’t cherry pick the greenery and sprawling beaches, and kick out the deer. Or rather, we shouldn’t.

There are nonlethal ways to patiently deal with the deer issue: Spray deer and tick repellant in your area; use tick repellant on yourself when you go outside; check your body and clothes for ticks when you hang out in tall grass or woods; use plants that deer do not eat; and drive slowly on small back roads that are surrounded by woods.

Let’s not forget that hunting is dangerous in a residential area because accidents can — and do — happen.

Huntington town board votes to allow bow hunting of animals

Some Eaton’s Neck residents have set their sights on terminating deer through bow hunting. Stock photo

The Huntington Town Board voted unanimously on Wednesday, Sept. 16, to amend town code to allow bow hunting of deer in Eaton’s Neck under the direction of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.

The board’s move was in response to Eaton’s Neck residents’ concerns of deer overpopulating their communities. Residents there have told town officials that they believe the animals have contributed to increased car accidents, tick-borne illnesses and a downgrade in their community’s quality of life.

“I think the Town Board did a great job in recognizing the fact that we have a problem,” Joe DeRosa, an Eaton’s Neck resident and president of Eaton Harbors Corp., said in a phone interview. “It’s a fantastic decision. It took the courage of the board to make this difficult decision.”

The decision comes after a heated summer-long debate, with some residents strongly in favor of this resolution, and others staunchly against it.

Supervisor Frank Petrone (D) said that this resolution takes the town’s firearms legislation, and amends it to include deer hunting with bows on private property with the approval of the property owner after the hunter has obtained a DEC permit.

Deer hunting season is just around the corner, starting on Oct. 1 and ending Jan. 31.

The supervisor said that homeowners themselves would go in and decide how they want to handle hiring a hunter to shoot deer on their property.

“We’ve gotten community groups and civic groups involved,” Petrone said. The groups will help find someone qualified, a deer hunter or deer hunter group, to come in. He called it a safety measure, so “it’s not just ‘Joe the hunter’ coming in.”

Deer hunters need to be approved by residents before they hunt on the residents’ private property. Petrone said hunters would most likely have to sign something like a release before hunting.

Also, in a separate resolution, the board voted unanimously to schedule a public hearing to consider adopting a law to introduce a deer management program.

Petrone said he recognizes that some residents say that bow hunting is not favorable, and that they are more interested in a method to reduce deer numbers through using contraceptives. He said he’s been researching annual contraceptive drugs, which require tagging deer, tranquilizing them and following up every year. He has also learned of a drug called GonaCon, a contraceptive drug that would only have to be given once. The company that is offering this drug would actually pay for this drug, because they want it to be used, according to Petrone.

“A deer management program will provide for various alternatives,” Petrone said. “One of the things that’s really being looked at is the contraception concept.”

Other ideas being reviewed are herding programs, to help round up deer; and getting a count of how many deer there actually are in the area.

“What this is, is we’ve started the process because there is a need to begin,” Petrone said about the mission of the management program. “Let’s now get into sophisticating this as a real management program.”

Councilwoman Susan Berland (D) supported all the bills on the deer issue.

“I recognize the seriousness of this issue for the residents of Eaton’s Neck,” she said in a phone interview.

In terms of the deer management program, Berland said, “It’s a natural second half of this.”

“I think we need to look into deer management — we need a long-term plan. Not everybody wants hunting on their property. We have to appeal to everyone,” she said.

Some Three Village residents became concerned when they received an advertisement for a deer management program offering its services. File photo

Residents living in the Village of the Head of the Harbor are up in arms due to a public hearing on Wednesday, Sept. 16, that considered allowing deer hunting in the area.

Citizens in the community said they not only disagree with the proposal but they also have a problem with the way village hall handled alerting them on the issue.

“This is a huge concern to the residents,” Julie Korneffel, a Head of the Harbor resident, said in a phone interview. “This goes against the town, which should preserve the natural aspects of the woods.”

Korneffel said that the code written “seemed purposely vague,” and she was especially unhappy with how little notice she was given about this issue before it came to village hall.

“There is a big concern for transparency now,” Korneffel said. “When paving is going on or a bike marathon is going to be held, we receive an email notice. But for this extremely important issue there was no email notice.”

Mayor Douglas Dahlgard said he thinks village hall did all it could to let residents know what is happening.

“We followed the rules,” Dahlgard said in a phone interview. “We put notices in the paper and on our village website. We do not have the budget to send out info every week.”

Dahlgard put a letter on the village website after the public hearing, informing residents of the status of the issue and how the public hearing went. According to Dahlgard, the letter should be mailed to all residents by the end of this week.

The public hearing was meant to discuss amending the town code to allow for limited bow hunting for deer on certain properties.

Currently, Head of the Harbor village code doesn’t allow hunting unless you have the consent of the owner of the property you want to hunt on and have a hunting license from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. Hunting then can only happen during hunting season, and you cannot discharge a weapon within 500 feet of any house or farm structure.

Dahlgard said the village board is looking to involve the Head of the Harbor police to help monitor where and when hunting would take place. If this happens, aside from the DEC and the property owner’s approval, a hunter would also need approval from the police. The board of trustees is also looking into the minimal size a property would have to be in order to hunt there.

Dahlgard said he recognizes the concerns for safety people have due to the deer population.

“I am for protecting village residents from the overpopulation of deer,” Dahlgard said. “We know there are deer causing traffic accidents and devastating crops, as well as the issue of Lyme disease. We are looking into alternative options; we want to bring in all the info we possibly can on this issue.”

Although Dahlgard said he and the trustees are looking into alternatives, he does not believe village hall should be responsible for the costs. “It is complicated, because the costs of methods like contraception are very expensive,” he said.

In his letter to the public, Dahlgard updated residents on where the board plans to go from here.

He said he has asked the DEC to make a presentation on the deer situation on Long Island at the next public hearing, on Wednesday, Oct. 21, at 7 p.m. Deer fencing, birth control, culling and other methods will also be discussed, and the board will appoint a deer commission, consisting of volunteer residents, to address this problem and advise the board. It was also recognized in the letter that some residents felt code changes needed to be more specific.

But residents said they are still unhappy with how the issue has been handled.

John Lendino, a Head of the Harbor resident and deputy highway commissioner for Head of the Harbor, distributed letters to residents to let them know of the public hearing last week and urged them to go.

In the letter he said that at the Aug. 19 meeting the board of trustees made an announcement to have this code change drawn up by the village attorney and put to the hearing on Sept. 16. According to Lendino, when one of the two town residents who were in attendance opposed, saying residents weren’t warned and that there should be a larger input before this decision is put to hearing, the resident was dismissed and the vote went forward.

“It seems that this is being done to rush this law into passage in order to kill deer in the village immediately,” Lendino said. “I don’t see any benefits to this, it’s just going to endanger people’s lives. It’s dangerous, and it’s even more dangerous when you have a board like we have.”

Lee Stein, a Head of the Harbor resident, said the only reason she knew of the meeting was because of Lendino. Korneffel said the same.

“I don’t want anyone hunting on my property with any weapon,” Stein said. “They should be representing us as our board. I have grandchildren that play in the woods. There have to be safer ways to remedy the problem.”

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