East Hampton Won’t Have a Deer Cull in 2014

Deer grazing in East Hampton.
Deer grazing in East Hampton. Photo credit: Brendan J. O'Reilly

A temporary retraining order (TRO) received Friday at town hall added to a long list of reasons that the Town of East Hampton has decided to forgo plans to bring in federal sharpshooters to cull the deer population.

Town Supervisor Larry Cantwell said Friday afternoon that even before the injunction was issued on behalf of opponents of the cull, the town board was preparing to announce the cull would not proceed this year.

“The town will not be going forward with the deer cull in 2014 for sure, for a number of reasons,” Cantwell said. “Certainly the TRO is part of the picture.”

According to the East Hampton Group for Wildlife, “the TRO stops any cull within the town borders at least until Feb. 10, when attorneys for the Town Board, Village Board, Trustees and Freeholders,” and the group’s lawyers will be in court.

“I see the TRO as a significant victory for the deer,” East Hampton Group for Wildlife President Bill Crain said.

Cantwell said that the previous town administration authorized the cull in November as a standing resolution, but no contracts have been signed. The town was in talks with the Long Island Farm Bureau to utilize a USDA program for reducing the deer population.

“At this point, more questions than answers have been raised with respect to the federal cull program,” Cantwell said.

According to a memo from Cantwell and Councilman Fred Overton, the deer plan liaison, based on correspondence the town has received additional litigation is expected. Further, the town has been advised that an environmental impact statement may be necessary before the cull proceeds, and the response from private property owners wishing to participate has been minimal.

But this does not mean a cull will never happen.

“I’m not precluding what might happen in the future,” Cantwell said. “We don’t even know if the program will be offered next year.”

Cantwell said the town may instead lean more on local hunters to manage the deer population.

Meanwhile, in the Village of East Hampton, Mayor Paul Rickenbach said his municipality will not pursue a cull this year.

“It was the intent and desire of the village to address wildlife management issues with a regional approach but as surrounding municipalities have not committed to participate it no longer seems a project the village can tackle on its own,” the mayor said. “The village remains committed in moving forward in this manner with its local government counterparts.”

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