Governor Proposes Reducing Setback for Deer Hunting

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

In order to make it easier to hunt deer in more areas, Governor Andrew Cuomo’s state budget proposal includes a provision to reduce the setback from 500 feet to 150 feet for bowhunting.

Instead of bowhunters having to be 500 feet away from a building or property where hunting is prohibited, if the budget passes as is, they can be within 150 feet when they shoot arrows. New York State Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele Jr., of Sag Harbor, previously put forward an identical proposal.

“There are other management tools that still need to be implemented, both lethal and non-lethal, but the enactment of this proposal would be a good first step in reducing the number of deer on eastern Long Island,” Thiele said.

The state Department of Environmental Conservation recommended the new setback in its deer management plan. It is consistent with setbacks in most adjoining states, according to Thiele’s office.

“Deer management has been a major issue on eastern Long Island, where deer populations have skyrocketed, creating ecological, health, and safety issues,” the assemblyman said. “The DEC, in its state management plan, has made recommendations to reduce the herd by increased hunting opportunities, but these measures have not been adopted by the state Legislature. As a result, farmers and local governments have been forced to look at more drastic management measures. The setback reduction, if enacted as part of the state budget, will provide a major tool that will permit the hunting community to play a greater role in reducing the deer herd.”

As the budget is debated in Albany, on the East End municipalities debate hiring U.S. Department of Agriculture sharpshooters to cull the deer herd—as many as 3,000 deer this winter.

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