04/02/14 7:46pm
04/02/2014 7:46 PM

T1003_deer_2_KS_C

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.

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03/07/14 11:41am
03/07/2014 11:41 AM
(Credit: Jim Colligan, file)

(Credit: Jim Colligan, file)

As the old saying goes: if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.

And so it went for opponents of a federal operation to cull deer across the East End — to a degree.

A state Supreme Court judge ruled yesterday that the Department of Environmental Conservation can no longer issue any deer damage permits in relation to the program, at least until March 28, limiting the number of deer that will be killed.

However, permits and deer tags that have been issued can be filled under the existing permits, the judge ruled.

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03/05/14 3:20pm
03/05/2014 3:20 PM
USDA sharpshooters reportedly started culling the deer herd on private land early last week. (Credit: Mike Tessitore/Hunters for Deer)

USDA sharpshooters reportedly started culling the deer herd on private land early last week. (Credit: Mike Tessitore/Hunters for Deer)

After recent litigation against Southold Town was dismissed, opponents of a plan to cull deer on the East End using U.S. Department of Agriculture sharpshooters — a plan that’s already underway — now intend to take the state Department of Environmental Conservation to court for allowing the program to move forward.  (more…)

01/27/14 5:30pm
01/27/2014 5:30 PM
NYS EXECUTIVE CHAMBER COURTESY PHOTO | Governor Andrew Cuomo in Albany last year.

NYS EXECUTIVE CHAMBER COURTESY PHOTO | Governor Andrew Cuomo in Albany last year.

While local hunters have been calling for reduced hunting regulations during months of spirited debate over a planned deer cull expected to start early next month in Southold, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced in the details of his executive budget last week that he favors reducing bowhunting setbacks throughout the state. (more…)

01/19/14 1:00pm
01/19/2014 1:00 PM

VERA CHINESE FILE PHOTO | The DEC aims to kill or capture all mute swans by 2025.

Citing “aggressive behavior towards people” and “destruction of submerged aquatic vegetation,” the state Department of Environment Conservation has released a new plan to kill or capture all wild mute swans by 2025.

The DEC’s Management Plan for Mute Swans in New York State aims to reduce the population of mute swans, which has grown considerably in recent years on Long Island.

A non-native and invasive species, the mute swan was brought to North America from Eurasia in the late 1800s. By 1993, New York’s mute swan population had increased to about 2,000. The population peaked at more than 2,800 birds in 2002 and is currently estimated at about 2,200 birds statewide, according to DEC statistics.

Long Island and the lower Hudson Valley currently have the largest numbers of mute swans, but a rapidly increasing population has taken hold in the Lake Ontario region, the DEC stated.

The birds cause a variety of problems, including aggressive behavior towards people, destruction of native plants, displacement of local wildlife, degradation of water quality, and potential hazards to aviation, according to the DEC.

To help eliminate the problems, the organization recently proposed listing mute swans as a “prohibited species” under new Invasive Species regulations. This would prohibit the sale, importation, transport or introduction of this species in New York.

Ultimately, the DEC is looking to eliminate all free-ranging mute swans from New York by 2025. However, people that choose to keep the birds as pets may do so under the proposal.

“Wildlife management can present challenges in trying to balance populations, hunting opportunities and environmental impacts,” DEC commissioner Joe Martens said in a press release.  “These plans will guide the management of these species for the next 10 years.”

The DEC is accepting comments on the mute swan plan through Feb. 21. Mail your thoughts to NYSDEC Bureau of Wildlife, Swan Management Plan, 625 Broadway, Albany, NY 12233-4754 or e-mail your comments.

cmurray@timesreview.com 

01/12/14 10:00am
01/12/2014 10:00 AM
KATHARINE SCHROEDER PHOTO  |

KATHARINE SCHROEDER FILE PHOTO |  The rise in deer population has become one of the biggest concerns for North Fork residents.

As a lifelong resident of the North Fork, I have witnessed the explosion of the deer population.

When I was growing up, it was rare to find deer tracks in fields or in the woods, but now it’s common to come across several deer in one’s backyard. Historically, populations of deer were dramatically lower than they are today, and we know that without natural predators and with plentiful food sources, deer populations can double in two to three years.

The agricultural industry, a critical part of the East End economy, has experienced millions of dollars of crop loss due to white-tailed deer. Farmers have spent thousands of dollars on deer fencing to protect crops; this is an expense most cannot afford. As a fourth generation farmer, I understand this all too well.

As a Suffolk County Legislator and a former Southold Town Councilman, I have spoken to hundreds of constituents whose lives have been seriously impacted by deer, whether it is by a tick-borne illness or a car accident or, as in some cases, both. I have walked through many acres of preserved open spaces and parks in my district and seen firsthand the destruction deer have done to the natural environment.

All efforts must be made to bring the population of white-tailed deer, which has reached crisis proportions in eastern Suffolk County, down to sustainable levels. The USDA sharpshooter program is one tool that can be employed to help achieve this goal and, at least in Southold Town, the community will utilize the program to decrease the herd size and protect human health, biodiversity and property.

This does not mean that there is unanimous support for culling the herd or that no controversy surrounds the program, but if the alternatives are considered objectively, the logical conclusion is that we need to act.

Tick-borne illnesses have cost millions of dollars in treatment and lost work and caused much pain and suffering. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control reported almost 3,000 cases of Lyme disease in New York State in 2012, but it is believed the actual number is much greater due to misdiagnosis, inconclusive testing and underreporting. New York State has one of the highest incidences of tick-borne illnesses in the country and Suffolk County has one of the highest infection rates in the state.

Lyme disease is not the only tick-borne illness associated with deer. Others, such as Babesiosis, can be particularly harmful to people with compromised immune systems. In addition, tick-borne disorders unfamiliar to scientists are emerging, such as a potentially life-threatening red meat allergy that develops in some people bitten by lone star ticks.

The Suffolk County Tick Management Task Force concluded that “the issue of tick-borne disease is inextricably linked to deer overpopulation … Any strategy for tick control must reduce the number of deer and/or the number of ticks on deer to have any chance of success.”

Unchecked growth of the white-tailed deer population has devastated the natural environment and this will continue until we act to reduce the population to a sustainable level.

Conservationists and those who advocate for the protection of wildlife alike should support policies that cull the herd to protect habitat and biodiversity. In many areas deer have destroyed the woodland understory. Invasive plant species, like mile-a-minute vine, have taken over because beneficial native plants have been gobbled up by deer.

The insects, birds and other animals these native plants and ecosystems support are now threatened and have decreased in numbers. Some forests are so stripped they may not be able to regenerate.

The problems caused by white-tailed deer overpopulation are multi-faceted and costly. As a community, we need to make the hard choices and manage the herd to lessen the occurrence of disease, habitat destruction and property loss.

If you are concerned about the well-being of individual deer, perhaps you should stop driving, because hundreds are killed or maimed in car accidents yearly. It is not a pretty sight to see an animal writhing in pain after being hit but not killed.

The USDA program is conducted safely, professionally and humanely. The meat harvested is a good source of protein and will not go to waste but will be donated to food pantries and homeless shelters feeding many people in need on Long Island.

Al Krupski is a Suffolk County legislator whose district encompasses the North Fork. He lives in Cutchogue.

01/06/14 9:30am
01/06/2014 9:30 AM
Calverton EPCAL sign

MICHAEL WHITE FILE PHOTO | One of two signs marking the EPCAL entrance along Route 25 in Calverton.

Hikers, bikers and walkers beware: the walking trails at Enterprise Park at Calverton are closed from Monday through the end of the month.

Riverhead Town announced that the trails will be closed from Jan. 6 through Jan. 31 during the shotgun deer hunting season on Long Island, though the special firearms hunting season doesn’t include weekend days.

Town officials have held a hunting lottery over the past few years to reduce the deer population at the town-owned land, though this season, three-day slots that hunters had been given last year will be reduced to two-day openings.