Editorial: In support of thinning the herd

12/23/2010 1:31 PM |

There are too many deer here. They are a prime host for ticks that carry serious diseases, destroy natural and landscaped vegetation and threaten human lives and property when they cross roads and highways.

With wolves, coyotes and rifle hunting all things of the past on Long Island, deer have no predators and so they thrive here, their population exploding. The East End’s combination of woods, farmland, open space and expansive suburban properties — with their landscaping and gardens — is the perfect environment for them, with lots of browsing territory and yet plenty of copses and woods nearby to which to retreat.

Animals in the wild endure harsh realities. Imminent violence and death are part of their lives. Contrary to the belief that humans have invaded the natural deer habitat — creating conflict by living where deer came first — the fact is humans have brought deer back by creating a cushy and expanding habitat for them.

Things are out of whack. Contraception won’t restore balance. It has remained a cumbersome, impractical and expensive way to limit large deer populations.

It’s good news that the Riverhead Town Board has voted to open up the Enterprise Park at Calverton to shotgun hunters throughout January and will encourage hunters to donate venison to local food pantries. But EPCAL is just one place deer are found. The herd moves daily throughout Riverhead and the rest of the region.

Riverhead and surrounding towns need more hunters and more lands for them to hunt all winter. For bow hunting, state rules allow for it now. No special permits or programs are necessary. The village of North Haven on the South Fork launched a bow hunt that began more than a decade ago. The hunt has reduced a deer herd of about 900 to 100.

By recruiting homeowners and farmland owners, and coordinating access to their properties for more qualified hunters, Riverhead could help make a proportional dent in its deer population over time. Many farmers, for example, are already allowing bow hunters onto their properties. Perhaps other property owners would do it, too, as a civic duty, if they understood the benefits.

5 Comment

  • From some half a million around the turn of the century, the US deer herd has grown to over 20 million, according to Cornell Cooperative Extension.

    No question that, for whatever reason, deer in many areas of relatively confined Long Island are now pests. While some habitats have grown, others have shrunk. That was a problem with the Grumman herd, which outgrew the habitat available “inside the fence.” Many deer there were malnourished, diseased, or both. That’s one reason Grumman allowed controlled hunts to thin the herd.

    We all see the problems you mention mounting, we’re still seeking a solution.

    I’ve seen deer problems like we have in North Carolina, West Virginia, and other states. There doesn’t seem to be any practical solution besides hunting.

  • I’m not sure if this is the place to comment, but I need to add my 2 cents to the treatment of the soldier that came home through MacArthur Airport. You should be ashamed of the way in which you treated that hero and her family. Our soldiers are our heroes and you, Sir White are not. Her coming home should not have been attached to the political crap you attached to such an honorable event. I sir will never purchase a copy of Riverhead Review and will share that with everyone I can. Again, Shame on you and may the Spirit of the real Christmas story enter your heart and forever change the way you do business. Merry Christmas, Joan Degnan

  • “From some half a million around the turn of the century, the US deer herd has grown to over 20 million”

    Wow, they did all that in just 10 years?
    Horney little buggars, eh?

  • My bad. That was from 1900 to now. Oh yeah, that century. Time flies when you’re having a good time!

  • You can thank Mr Frost and Mr Mills for sticking us with him in the first place.