Opponents — and supporters — of a deer cull being carried out by the United States Department of Agriculture are still waiting, and will continue to wait, for court proceedings to resume after a court date scheduled for last Friday was indefinitely delayed by a state judge, who sought more time to read up on the facts on the case before hearing both sides.
Jeff Baker, the lawyer representing the Wildlife Coalition of Eastern Long Island — who along with several other organizations, sued the New York Department of Environmental Conservation over the cull — said that he’s unsure when he’ll be called to hold oral arguments.
In the meantime, the cull — largely paid for by the Long Island Farm Bureau — is following the same track it has been since the involved parties were in court on March 6: no new permits have been issued, though the cull was allowed to move forward using the tags that had been issued through permits given out prior to the court date.
Mr. Baker said that “it appears most of the USDA permits go until the end of April,” so if a judge lifts the temporary restraining order anytime soon, more permits could be given out.
Mr. Baker said no date has been set for the parties to return to court. A new judge was given the case, he said, explaining the need for further time.
The farm bureau had originally pitched the plan to all East End municipalities, asking each town or village interested in participating to pitch in funds to help match the $250,000 the organization planned to contribute, which it received as part of a state grant to thin the herd. Both East Hampton Town and Village eventually dropped out after a judge issued a temporary restraining order, stopping the towns from moving forward.
An original goal of thinning the herd by 2,400 to 3,000 dropped to the 1,000 range since Southold was the only municipality to contribute funds to the program.
The cull has proceeded on private lands in Riverhead, Southold and Southampton, though officials involved with the deer killing have remained mum as it has been carried out.