The Huntington Town Board is taking a shot at regulating what some say is an uptick in deer by hosting a public hearing on a plan to allow seasonal bow hunting on Eaton’s Neck.
Residents who are interested in weighing in on the plan can get a better understanding of what changes would be made to hunting laws at the hearing on Aug. 11 at 2 p.m.
The proposal would amend the town code to allow long bow hunting during hunting season on private properties to anyone who has a hunting license issued by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.
A survey of the area’s residents shows support for the proposal, according to town spokesman A.J. Carter,
“Our major concern is safety, traveling our roads at night is hazardous and using our property has become impossible,” Ken Kraska, a resident of Eaton’s Neck said at the July 14 Town Board meeting.
Kraska said himself and many other residents own several acres of “virgin, wooded, undeveloped land,” and the deer population is starting to overrun it. He also described the deer as aggressive, especially during mating season.
The issue of Lyme disease also has residents worried.
“The number of deer has doubled and then tripled, people have had to hire companies to spray for ticks, and you have to do it constantly to stay on top of it,” Joe DeRosa, another Eaton’s Neck resident said at the meeting.
DeRosa has several grandchildren, and says he’s constantly on alert with them as well.
Mel Ettinger, trustee and police commissioner of Asharoken Village, said that an increased deer population has been a problem for years there, too.
“Every year there are more accidents involving deer and automobiles,” Ettinger said.
Animal activists don’t support this method of dealing with the issue and believe that there are more humane ways to reduce the number of deer.
“Bow hunting is one of the cruelest forms of hunting,” Kristin DeJournett, cruelty casework manager for PETA said.
DeJournett described alternative methods to keep deer away, including targeting food supply by cutting back on edible plants.
An increase in native plants, or plants that grow naturally in a particular region, without direct or indirect human intervention, will help reduce interest from deer, since native plants have grown over time and have a natural resistance to local deer, she said.
DeJournett said that scarecrows could work against deer, as well as placing soap or pepper spray on your property, because the smell deters the animals.
“Lethal methods don’t work to control animal populations in the long-term,” she said. “When animals are killed, more animals move in to replace them, and it creates a temporary increased food supply, which causes the remaining does to breed at an accelerated rate.”
Wendy Chamberlin, president of the Wildlife Preservation Coalition of Eastern Long Island, also shares the belief that bow hunting is a cruel and ineffective option.
“For sentience animals, that have thoughts and feelings, it is particularly cruel…it is a long, drawn out, agonizing death,” she said.
Members of the Town Board offered mixed thoughts on the proposal in interviews this week.
“I do think it’s a complicated and sensitive issue,” Councilwoman Tracey Edwards (D) said. “Any time lives of wildlife are taken we have to be very clear on what we’re doing and why.”
Councilwoman Susan Berland (D) seemed a bit more decided against the proposal.
“I know that there is a problem with the deer population, but I believe there is a probably a more humane way to deal with it.”
Councilman Gene Cook (I) indicated that he would be voting against the measure.
“I don’t like it, I think it is a cruel way to handle this, and it’s dangerous. It is bad for the residents and bad for the deer.”