Hamptons Lion Release to Cull Deer May Result in Lawsuit Being Withdrawn

Bridgehampton billionaire Hanz van Der Klerk, a South African native, plans to release 26 African lions in the Hamptons December 30 to cull the deer population. Photo credit: ZooHistorian/Wikimedia Commons
Bridgehampton billionaire Hanz van Der Klerk, a South African native, plans to release 26 African lions in the Hamptons December 30 to cull the deer population. Photo credit: ZooHistorian/Wikimedia Commons

The South African billionaire who has flown 26 lions from his native land to the Hamptons to rid that community of an infestation of deer beginning this coming Monday may inadvertently, by holding his expected deer carnage, cause a new lawsuit just filed against one of our towns to become irrelevant.

The lawsuit has been filed against East Hampton by two deer loving organizations and several local residents bent on stopping a recently approved plan to shoot many of the deer in the Hamptons in a February deer hunt.   The organizations are the East Hampton Group for Wildlife and the Evelyn Alexander Wildlife Center of the Hamptons.

According to them, the deer hunt, which is to be performed at night by sharpshooters from the United States Department of Agriculture in February, is not necessary because the town has not proven there are too many deer.   The lawsuit points to a survey done in East Hampton in 2012 that showed there were 30% fewer deer than there were in 2010.  It also says the town has failed to show an increase in deer-automobile collisions.   And it has failed to show a correlation between increased cases of Lyme Disease in the community having been caused by deer.

It is a serious lawsuit, and it was filed on the plaintiff’s behalf on December 18 by the distinguished law firm of Devereaux Baumgarten several days before the Town of East Hampton voted unanimously to approve of the deer hunt in February.   Lawyers for that town say to date they have not responded to the lawsuit designed to prevent it. They have 30 days to do so.

But will that be necessary?

According to the mayor of the Hamptons, James Hamilton, the deer hunt has been approved by most of the communities in the Hamptons, so a lawsuit against just one community will have only a small effect, if the shoot is stayed.

He also notes that if the hunt by Hans Van der Klerk’s 26 lions, scheduled to begin on Monday and end ten days later, is successful, there may be no deer left to shoot in February, in East Hampton or anywhere else, when the approved deer hunt is scheduled to take place.

“Without deer, the sharpshooters might come, but what will they shoot?  I suspect if the lions are successful, and there is nothing to stop this from happening, this lawsuit will fall by the wayside,” Hamilton said. “I think.”

Meanwhile, Van der Klerk’s 26 lions, who have been roaring and howling waiting to be released from his garage, are ready to go.  And on Monday, after a one-week postponement, indeed they shall.

“It has been pointed out to me,” he wrote in an open letter to neighbors on December 20 explaining that postponement, “that my initial plan to release the lions on Monday, December 23, is not a good idea.  Because people will have to stay indoors during the deer hunt, they will be unable to get out for Christmas celebrations on Wednesday, December 25.

“Although my original plan was to get them out and off my property on Monday so my own guests, helicoptered in to my property for our family Christmas celebration, would not have to listen to the terrible roars that are emanating from my 17-car garage where they are being kept, I now see this was selfish of me.  I was not thinking clearly.

“I apologize to the people of the Hamptons for asking them to stay indoors from December 20 until the deed was done.  You people have your own Christmases to celebrate, and that might involve travel, and at least to all of you, your Christmas is more important than mine.   Silly me.

“We will put up with the roaring for another week.  We will shout during our celebration.   Indeed we will talk jokingly about the fact that had I been smarter, I would not have brought them to the Hamptons from South Africa until after Christmas was over.   But I am not that smart.   Just lucky to have made all this money, that’s all.   So I made a mistake.

“Enjoy your Christmas holiday.   Then, on Monday, December 30, the lions will be released to track down and eat all the deer here in the Hamptons at which time you are strongly advised to remain in your homes from that date on and through to the next ten days when the lions are full and unable to eat more and we will pick them up and I will have them flown back home.

“Also, I don’t think it’s enough to atone for my errors by just the delaying the lion release.  I intend to atone further by making a considerable financial donation to the food pantries of this community immediately after I finish this apology.

See you at the club.

Hans Van der Klerk
Good neighbor”

Mayor Hamilton urges residents of the Hamptons to stay indoors from December 30 to January 8 while the lions are loose.

More from Our Sister Sites