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Updated: 10/1/2009 - 4:05 AM

Hunting for deer control
Town looks to reduce deer herds
  27 comments below

Michael Clark, a state Department of Environmental Conservation wildlife biologist, explains the many challenges that stand in the way of controlling the escalating deer population on the North Fork during a Sept. 16 deer management forum at Town Hall.
Responding to calls from across Southold to get the burgeoning deer population under control, the Town Board this week created a deer-management task force and directed it to consider all options, including those within the town's control and others requiring state legislation.

Tuesday's Town Board vote came six days after residents filled the board's meeting room during a Sept. 16 deer-management forum. A number of potential deer-control methods, such as expanding hunting opportunities or injecting the animals with contraceptives, were aired during an emotional debate.

But hunters and self-proclaimed "Bambi lovers" alike agreed it is virtually impossible to bring down deer numbers effectively with the existing methods.

"This is not just a Southold Town problem, this is a Long Island regional problem and over the years it has gotten worse," said Joe Gergela, executive director of the Long Island Farm Bureau, one of the forum's panelists. "The time has come to develop a comprehensive plan."

The exploding deer population has caused a variety of problems, including damage to farm crops estimated by Mr. Gergela at $5 million a year, a rise in deer/motor vehicle accidents and the spread of tick-borne diseases such as Lyme disease.

Michael Clark, a wildlife biologist with the state Department of Environmental Conservation, said help is needed from Albany. The effectiveness of having hunters thin the herd is greatly diminished by the state's restriction against discharging a firearm within 500 feet of a house. With so many homes ringing open lands and farm fields and so many of the 500-foot circles overlapping, objections from a single property owner can leave most of the land off limits.

'This is not just a Southold Town problem...' Joe Gergela, LIFB
Some states have no such restrictions, said Mr. Clark, who called for a 200-foot limit.

Mr. Clark also cited the need for opening up more public lands to hunting, permitting the use of crossbows and trapping deer. Trapping would involve fence-like structures, not steel-jaw leg-hold traps.

The Town Board's options include establishing a no-cost deer carcass disposal program at the Cutchogue waste transfer station. Throughout the forum, hunters said the lack of disposal options limits the number of animals harvested.

"Nobody wants to dig a hole and bury it", said John Hass of Cutchogue, a hunter named Tuesday to the town's deer-management group.

The other members are Town Supervisor Scott Russell, Councilman Al Krupski, John Becht, John Rasweiler, John Rumpler IV and John Standish, the town's deputy public works director.

Mr. Rasweiler, a retired wildlife biologist, disputed the notion of leaving the deer alone because they were here first. The population problem is largely man-made, he said, and began when colonists cleared forests, which are poor deer habitats, and planted farms, which produce a steady supply of food.

He added that humans have also eliminated the natural predators, such as wolves, that kept the deer herds in check.

"The population has reached the point of doing very severe damage to the broader environment," he said Wednesday. "It's also reached the point of being environmentally unsustainable because the deer are outgrowing their food supply."

In a bad winter the deer will starve, he said. "It's not a pretty sight to see and to see it has had a profound impact on me that stays with me today," he said.

Mr. Rasweiler also argued that deer droppings washing into bathing and shellfishing area waters can raise bacteria counts to unhealthy levels. A single deer can consume up to eight pounds of vegetation and leave two pounds of waste each day.

Feeding deer only makes matters worse and it is illegal, said Tom Gadomski, the DEC conservation officer assigned to Southold Town. Putting out food leads to an increase in birth rates and, by drawing animals to a specific area, causes more deer/vehicle accidents.

Deer crowding around a feeding station also increases the risk of spreading disease, he added.

Several of Wednesday's speakers said contraception programs are not a practical alternative. Aside from the cost, up to $350 per animal, the deer are very mobile, which makes it difficult to dose a significant number of female deer. Mr. Clark added that contraception has not been shown to reduce the deer population. Current hunting practices also limit the number taken, with many hunters bypassing does and looking for trophy bucks with large racks.

In upstate areas, hunters are allowed to kill wild swine on sight, said Mr. Clark. He added, "We're almost about there here."

In the town's search for additional lands suitable for hunting, it is reaching out to the Peconic Land Trust, Councilman Krupski said.

Following that comment, one Southold woman said she would be willing to open up her lands if she can meet with a hunter and set a schedule.

"Where do you live?" a young man asked.

"Bayview," she said. "And I'll cook you dinner."

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27 comments found

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uQyhhaWEfvDHYGYLF : 8/28/2013
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qrCDNMmYSAcH : 8/26/2013
I guess im just beating a dead horse but it all ddeenps on how much prior experience you have with the art of hunting an animal that has better sight, smell, hearing, and overall better situational awareness then us humans do. If you can get close to a deer with a rifle, then you can get close to a deer with any weapon. If you can get close then it all ddeenps on how well you can manipulate your bow. A lot of factors that really dont effect you when your shooting a deer with a rifle at 30 yards will show up and ruin your day if your shooting a bow. GET OUT AND PRACTICE SHOOTING, and you will most definately be ready to kill a deer archer style come january 15. Merry Christmas

TfbTKsnrYVfcR : 8/24/2013
Older 100%, we've done the new. And after a few years became unehenantcd. Between the house settling and trying to get warrenty work (not getting into that), and privacy. When our backyard after ten feet became our neighbours front yard. Was not for us. With older it can be a headache and a surprise of whats next to go'? We are redoing our deck this summer since all the tiles are literally falling off. But for the character and privacy (10 mature trees) I wouldnt have it any other way

Bow Hunting : 7/28/2013
reliable bow hunter looking to obtain farm land to hunt on Long Island. I will respect every rule or boundary you have. 516-901-6449

Deer Management : 2/28/2013
I am a Professional Archery hunter looking to help manage the deer population in Suffolk County. I will gladly meet with you one month prior to the hunting season to discus property lines and guide lines in which you would like me to follow. I have all proper paper work in which holds the landowner NOT liable for any type of accident. Please feel free to call any time.
Thanks for your time.

Deer problems! : 9/8/2012
Call if you need my free help. I would like to hunt anywhere in suffolk county that is overpopulated with deer.I would meet with you any time for discussion. I have all the paperwork that will protect the landowners from any liabilities. . With this paperwork there is no liability to the landowner. Please feel free to call me at 917-682-3688. Thanks you can call anytime Chris.

Hunting : 8/21/2012
I been Bow hunting on Long Island for 25 years. I would like to hunt the southold lands to alleviate the overpopulated deer in that area. I have all the paper work to protect the landowners from liability. With this paper work there is no liability to the laneowners. Please fell free to call me at 631-559-4388 Bob.

Deer Hunting : 7/27/2012
I have been hunting Long Island for over 25 years. I have heard many residents complain about the deer eating shrubs, jumping in front of cars ,and lyme disease. You would think that it would be easy to get permission to archery hunt on private property but that's NOT THE CASE. Alot of landowners are hesitant to give permission because they think that there is a big liability with the risk of someone getting hurt. There are recent laws that protect Landowners from liability. If you need someone to Hunt your property please email John at :

Bow hunt deer : 7/24/2012
I'm a members of 2 archery clubs on LI. I'm available to bow hunt 7 days a week if anyone needs a few deer removed

nuisance hunting southold : 3/12/2012
I am a safe & ethical bow hunter. I would like to hunt the southold lands to alleviate the overpopulated deer in that area.

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Deer Control : 11/8/2011
I am a bow hunter who has been hunting on Long Island for 30 years. I'm a safe and ethical Bow hunter that can help you with your Deer problem. Most of the times you'll not even no I'm there. The only way you will know is if you see my Truck. I'm licensed by D.E.C a member of the Long Island farm Bureau and a member of the American Legion. Please feel free to contact me anytime via email ( ) Thank You

DEER HUNTING : 10/14/2009
I am a safe and ethical bow hunter that would love the oppurtunity to hunt on private land in Suffolk County. I am a Suffolk County resident and if I can help you out in any way, do not hesitate to conatct me via e-mail (

deer : 10/1/2009
Why can't we put out salt licks with material in it to disturb the matting cycle ,state of ct has done this and it worked ..

Bambi Solution : 9/25/2009
I suppose I could obtain a NYS wildlife management license, then call Wolf Rescue in Minnesota to "rescue" a wolf. They eat white footed mice as appetizers for their deer meals. I have the space, they have the appetite. It'll restore the balance in North Fork nature. It's gonna be one fat wolf!

No Doubt On Lyme Disease : 9/25/2009
You have got to be kidding saying the deer don't carry lyme disease. The incidence of the disease has clearly gone up in my area as the deer have increased. We never used to see the deer right around the house and now that they show up there people in my family and all the neighbors are getting lyme disease. I haven't seen a white footed mouse in the area in my life.

deer control : 9/24/2009
Joe Gergela, executive director of the Long Island Farm Bureau, should get his facts straight regarding the purported connection between Lyme Disease and deer. The major carrier for the tick that causes Lyme Disease is the Eastern White Footed Mouse. The tick should be called the Mouse Tick, not the Deer Tick. Migrating birds are the major cause for the spread of the tick that causes Lyme Disease, not deer. Don't blame Bambi for man's bumbling and misguided mismanagement of paradise.

Deer : 9/24/2009
Whatever you do don't let these people sell you on the idea of the 4 Posters. We have them on Shelter Island and despite what they told us, our deer and environment are now contaminated with Permethrin. Wake up people! It's the DEC disquised in sheeps clothing!

The real solution : 9/24/2009
The deer problem is part of the development problem. Humans can and should learn to limit and reduce the indirect feeding of deer. So, if It has been, and is being, agravated by the spread of suburban development! I doubt humans will bring back the natural predators, and the natural forests are gone forever. The immanent Comprehensive planning process will determine if humans will be able to limit our destructive impacts on the natural environment.

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