A proposal to use U.S. Department of Agriculture sharpshooters to reduce the deer population on the East End has been met with opposition from animal advocates.
As of Tuesday morning, 2,736 individuals have signed a change.org petition that calls for a halt to the plan. Instead, the petition suggests “a humane, sustainable, non-lethal deer management plan based on science, rather than anecdotal, highly charged emotional accounts.”
The proposal to kill 3,000 deer this winter aims to lessen the prevalence of Lyme disease carrying deer ticks, reduce the number of deer-versus-vehicle accidents on the roads, and to address issues of crop damage and deer eating vegetation on residents’ property. The Long Island Farm Bureau is in talks with the USDA’s Wildlife Services to make the plan a reality, with the culling program to begin in February.
Federal sharpshooters would not be subject to the same rules as average hunters. For instance, they would be allowed to use rifles and night vision goggles, while hunters in Suffolk are prohibited to do so. Sharpshooters would focus on does, rather than the bucks that hunters prize.