12/12/13 4:00pm
12/12/2013 4:00 PM

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Riverhead Town Board members informally agreed to support a bill in the state legislature that would allow the East End towns to temporarily permit longbow hunting for deer to take place no closer than 150 feet from homes, or other dwellings on the East End. The current law requires bow hunters to be at least 500 feet from homes or other dwellings.

The state law would also allow the towns to permit longbow hunting on Saturdays and Sundays, which is not currently permitted.

“Typically, the furthest shot a bow hunter will take is between 30 and 40 yards,” Councilman George Gabrielsen said.

The towns could enact a  restriction of more than 150 feet, but not less, under the proposal. Mr. Gabrielsen said the town’s wildlife management committee can discuss what distance to enact  if the state bill passes.

The Town Board is expected to formally vote Tuesday on the resolution supporting the state bill. Supervisor Sean Walter and Councilwoman Jodi Giglio were absent from Thursday’s work session.

The bill, sponsored by State Senator Ken LaValle (R-Port Jefferson) and Assemblyman Fred Thiele (I-Sag Harbor), says the new regulation is needed because “the recent population explosion of white-tailed deer on Eastern Long Island threatens public health, public safety, personal property, and the environment.”

It described the current increase in deer population as an “emergency, crisis situation requiring immediate action,” and said that tick-borne illness and deer vs. car collisions on the East End have increased as a result of the deer.

The new restrictions, if approved, would only be in effect until Dec. 31, 2014.

Riverhead Town will not be following the lead of Brookhaven, Southold and East Hampton towns in paying the state to bring in sharp-shooters to hunt deer in the town. The state wanted Riverhead to pay $25,000, Mr. Gabrielsen said.

To read what else was discussed at Thursday’s work session, click below.

 

Dec 12 1213 Work Session by Timesreview

12/05/13 12:00pm
12/05/2013 12:00 PM
JIM COLLIGAN FILE PHOTO

JIM COLLIGAN FILE PHOTO

North Fork legislators are lobbying the chair of the state’s Environmental Conservation Committee to pass a bill that would have given local municipalities on the East End the authority to loosen some restrictions on deer hunting had it not been stalled in the lower house of the state Legislature last year.

In a letter addressed to state Assemblyman Robert Sweeney (D-Lindenhurst), Suffolk County Legislator Al Krupski — the initial author of the letter, which was written late last month — said “the overpopulation of white-tailed deer is a crisis which has plagued the East End of Long Island for many years, negatively impacting not only human health, but water quality, biodiversity, private property, the economy and the agricultural industry.”

The four-page letter — supported so far by Southold Town, the Village of Greenport and groups including the North Fork Environmental Council, North Fork Audubon Society and North Fork Deer Management Alliance — calls upon Mr. Sweeney to move the bill out of the committee it never left last year, so the entire Assembly can vote on it. The state Senate passed the bill, 59-2, in May.

Steven Liss, a legislative aide to Mr. Sweeney, said in a phone conversation that officials with the Department of Environmental Conservation — which regulates hunting in New York State — expressed concern about granting towns and villages the option to loosen state regulations. State Senator Ken LaValle (R-Port Jefferson) said he recalled no such opposition while passing the bill last year. A DEC spokesperson said the authority does not comment on pending legislation.

Mr. Liss said that if the deer “crisis” is as severe as some say it is, measures more drastic than deregulating hunting laws will be needed to reduce the herd. He pointed to a plan which Southold Town will be implementing, made possible through a Long Island Farm Bureau grant, that involves hiring United States Department of Agriculture sharpshooters to use measures above and beyond state law <\h>— including baiting and hunting at night <\h>— to cut down drastically the number of deer in the area. Riverhead officials have expressed skepticism to this plan, however, noting that opening more opportunities to hunters would be more preferable than spending money to bring in hunters from outside the area.

“If we’re talking about opening up hunting opportunities, we support that,” Mr. Liss said. “But if we’re talking about culling the herd down to a manageable level, that’s a different conversation.”

The amendments to the state hunting law proposed by Assemblyman Fred Thiele last year would have given the five East End towns the ability to reduce bowhunting setbacks down to 150 feet, from the current state regulations of 500 feet. In addition, opening up a special firearms hunting season for the entire month of January was proposed; currently, only weekdays are allowed. These measures, as well as a couple of other changes offered by Mr. Thiele, were suggested in a deer management plan published by the DEC in October 2011.

In September, a forum hosted by the town on the topic of culling the herd brought out over 300 residents interested in the issue. Southold Supervisor Scott Russell called the problem of deer overpopulation a “public health crisis” at the time.

Because of opposition to reducing setbacks he says Mr. Sweeney has expressed, Mr. Thiele — who represents the South Fork and Shelter Island — said in a Tuesday interview that he plans submitting two bills related to deer management next month when the Assembly returns to Albany. One, he said, would expand the opportunity for localities statewide to reduce their setbacks and the other deals with all the other elements of the original bill.

While he sees no single solution to the deer problem in the immediate future, Mr. Thiele said it’s a step in the right direction.

“All we are trying to do is follow the deer management plan,” he said. “To use a bad pun, no silver bullet is going to solve this issue. But this is one way to work toward that. Every little bit counts.”

The letter to Mr. Sweeney, chair of the Environmental Conservation Committee since 2007, goes beyond the previously proposed amendments to state law, proposing the use of baits as well as trapping and humane euthanasia of deer.

“Every humane tool must be utilized to get our deer population down to reasonable levels as soon as possible,” the letter states.

While the future of the bill in the Assembly remains unclear, Mr. LaValle said he should have no problem passing the new bill through the state Senate next year.

03/14/13 10:00am
03/14/2013 10:00 AM

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Riverhead Town Board members on Thursday agreed to amend its recently adopted rules of procedure to take out a section that banned booing at board meetings.

The board will vote on a resolution next week to amend the rules and procedures to remove the ban, news of which caught nationwide attention last week.

“It’s over, we’re removing the boo ban,” Supervisor Sean Walter said during Thursday’s public work session. “We were famous; now it’s over.”

County Legislator Al Krupski (D-Cutchogue) also showed up at the meeting with a state Department of Environmental Conservation staffer to talk about deer management.

Mr. Krupski told Town Board members the DEC is allowing towns to take more of a role in deer management.

The DEC is also proposing a plan to relax deer hunting rules to allow hunting on Sundays and to allow bow hunting closer to residences.

The board was also joined by town finance director Bill Rothaar to discuss a recent state audit that took issue with the town’s controversial “administrative charge-back” policy. It was found the town directs too much money to its general fund from special taxing districts for services rendered.

Town Supervisor Sean Walter has said the town’s budget deficit could increase by $1 million to $3 million more as a result of the audit’s recommendation.

News-Review reporter Tim Gannon reported live from the meeting.

Click below to see what transpired:

 

March 14, 2013 – Agenda by rnews_review