In several weeks time, federal sharpshooters may be coming out to the East End of Long Island with high-powered rifles to kill deer. They will go out at night with sights on their guns, they will climb trees and drop bait to attract the deer. And they will fire away—with silencers, so as not to wake the neighborhood—until as many as 3,000 deer are killed to supposedly “cull the herd.”
This newspaper wants to know why they are coming. There is little doubt in our minds that for at least the last 10 years, deer out here have been in need of culling. But now the deed has been done. Earlier this month, African lions from South Africa were brought here, 26 of them, by a rich man with an oceanfront home in Bridgehampton, and he set them loose out here, and, in just one night, they killed practically the entire herd of deer, except for a few stragglers.
Why is it therefore necessary to have the sharpshooters—which the Long Island Farm Bureau announced in December would be paid for with a $200,000 New York State grant—coming out here, where a stray bullet could cause all sorts of havoc for which we will all be very sorry. The East End towns and villages are being asked to contribute between $15,000 and $25,000 each to have the sharpshooters come. This is not a vast sum of money. I have little doubt that if the sharpshooters were now called off, this money, if paid, would have to be returned. Is it the obligatory paperwork that needs to be filled out that is holding this up? Is it the fear that the feds might refuse the request but still get the money? Or worse, announce they will return the money and then, for years and years, fail to do so? This is not a lot of money. There appears to us to be no reason why this “culling” should not be called off and any money paid out be requested returned. What is holding our elected officials back?
It is true that the few deer left are much smarter than the thousands of run-of-the-mill deer that got killed by the lions. It was, for that terrible bloody night, a true survival of the fittest, and if you have not noticed, the few deer that remain, having had the good sense to have crawled into hollow logs or hidden behind woodpiles during the carnage, are still out and about.
As for the two lions that were not rounded up and brought back to South Africa, we have learned that they have been found dead in the woods, eaten alive by these wily few highly intelligent deer that now remain.
I say it is time for us humans to live in peace with this small tribe of smart deer that is here. We can reason with them. We can make them understand that we want to get along with them. You may have noticed that they have the pluck to avoid cars entirely now. Or the few that don’t and get angry let us know, standing straight still and sticking their little ears out in preparation of charging. So they know how to warn. They are communicating.
In any case, it might be a blessing to call off the sharpshooters. For their own safety, with these surviving deer capable of working together and sneaking up behind, it might be lifesaving for us, ahead of time, to tell the sharpshooters not to come, even if it means we don’t all get our $15,000 to $25,000 back.
And remember: If you are face-to-face with one of these deer that stand statue-still and stick their ears out, do not make eye contact. Simply look at your feet and walk quietly but quickly backwards until you are behind some wall or telephone pole or sign where they can’t see you. Remember, what the deer cannot see, they cannot know is there.
This warning, brought to you by Dan’s Papers, is for your own good.