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.