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.

12/16/13 10:30am
12/16/2013 10:30 AM
JIM COLLIGAN FILE PHOTO

JIM COLLIGAN FILE PHOTO

A lottery for Riverhead Town residents and property owners to hunt on town-owned land in Calverton is scheduled for tonight, Monday, in Town Hall.

The annual hunt during the special firearms season, for shotguns and muzzleloaders, runs from Jan. 6 through Jan. 31, on weekdays.

Riverhead officials started opening up lands at Enterprise Park at Calverton a few years ago to thin the herd, though this season, three-day slots that hunters had been given last year will be reduced to two-day openings.

The lottery will take place at 7 p.m. in Town Hall at 210 Howell Avenue. Applicants must be in attendance to participate, and proper ID and hunting license must be presented at the time of the lottery.

Interested hunters can contact Councilman George Gabrielsen at 727-3200, Ext. 223, for more information.

12/11/13 4:00pm
12/11/2013 4:00 PM
BARBARAELLEN KOCH FILE PHOTO | The Riverhead Town Board is considering allowing deer hunting at EPCAL

BARBARAELLEN KOCH FILE PHOTO | The Riverhead Town Board is considering allowing deer hunting at EPCAL

A lottery for Riverhead residents and landowners to hunt on town-owned land in Calverton will be held next Monday in town hall.

The annual hunt during the special firearms season, for shotgun and muzzleloaders, is open from Jan. 6 through Jan. 31, on weekdays. Riverhead officials started opening up lands at Enterprise Park at Calverton a few years ago to thin the herd, though this season, three-day slots that hunters had been given last year will be reduced to two-day openings.

The lottery will take place at 7 p.m. in town hall. Applicants must be in attendance in order to participate, and proper ID and hunting license must be presented at the time of the lottery.

For more information, interested hunters can contact Councilman George Gabrielsen at 727-3200, ext. 223.

12/16/12 8:25am
12/16/2012 8:25 AM

CHRISTINE SACKETT COURTESY PHOTO | This Piebald doe, the mother of three fawns, is often seen in Wading River.

What are those ghostly looking deer?
The answer is piebald deer, the name given to a small number of rare animals that appear two-toned in color. Hunters and conservationists say there’s one in just about every hamlet of Southold Town, at least two in Riverhead and at least one on Shelter Island.
“There’s been more showing up in the last few years,” said Jeff Standish, a hunter who serves as deputy director of Southold Town’s department of public works. “There’s at least five between Orient and Laurel. There’s one in Peconic, one in Mattituck, one in Cutchogue, one right here in Southold village and a 12-year-old piebald I know of from Orient who recently passed away.”

Piebald is a 16th-century word that refers to the black and white plumage of the magpie bird; “pie” refers to the bird and “bald” means “white” or “spotted.”

The blotchy deer, which in some cases appear almost pure white, are the result of a recessive gene, said Aphrodite Montalvo, citizen participation specialist with the New York State Department of Conservation.

“A piebald deer is a partial albino, or is only partially missing pigmentation,” she said. “A true albino will have no pigmentation, so it will have pink eyes and nose and be fully white.”

Ms. Montalvo said the animals are rare; though the DEC has not conducted studies on the number of piebald deer, data from other states suggest they constitute less than 1 percent of the population.

That number can be slightly higher in protected areas or areas where natural predators such as the coyote or bobcat have been removed from the landscape, Ms. Montalvo added. They may occur more frequently here than in upstate areas, where predators can pick off the snowy fawns, whose natural response is to lie down and hide in dense cover.

“As you can imagine, it makes it difficult to hide when the animal is stark white,” she said.

“That’s the neatest part about these deer,” said Mr. Standish. “They don’t know they’re white, but they still have that instinct to hide. So you’ll see a buck lying down in a pile of briars, but he’s standing out clear as day.”

Cutchogue hunter Lisa Dabrowski said that although she hasn’t hunted in many years, when she did she let piebald deer be and believes other hunters do the same, even though they are easier targets than most.

In fact, she said she considers the animals good luck and recently fi lmed one she’s seen in the Fort Corchaug area.

“Most hunters have a great respect for nature,” Ms. Dabrowski said. “Just because it’s a white deer doesn’t mean it’s something someone will go make a trophy out of. It’s something we appreciate and protect. Most hunters will look at it from afar and only want to photograph it because it’s special.”

In addition to their unusual color, the bodies of piebald deer are somewhat different, said Ms. Dabrowski.

“They have narrower heads and short legs but are the same length,” she said.

Despite piebalds’ unique look, Ms. Dabrowski and Mr. Standish said, the unusual deer behave like all other white-tailed deer and are not shunned for their appearance.

“Let’s say a doe had two fawns and one was piebald, I never saw the doe not be with that fawn,” Mr. Standish said. “I was watching a piebald buck rut one time and he rutted like any other buck would. He just had longer hair and looked short and stocky. If I hadn’t known better, I would have thought he was a goat,”

Riverhead hunters are also familiar with the ghostly deer in local forests.

Tom Gabrielsen, brother of Riverhead Town Councilman George Gabrielsen, said he’s seen one while hunting on the former Grumman property in Calverton.

He watched another piebald grow from a fawn to a huge buck in Sears Bellows County Park in Hampton Bays. Though he was a 12-pointer (more points mean a larger rack of antlers), Mr. Gabrielsen said hunters let him be, especially at a park ranger’s request.

Hunters aren’t the only people who enjoy the piebald deer.

One animal in Wading River earned the affectionate handle “Sweetie Pie” from resident Christine Sackett.

Ms. Sackett, who has lived in the hamlet for just over a year, said she sees “Sweetie Pie” and her three fawns just about every dawn and dusk.

Animals that are most active in the morning and at twilight are called crepuscular, as opposed to nocturnal or diurnal. The reason deer are such a hazard to drivers is they’re most active during commuting hours. Ms. Sackett normally sees Sweetie Pie and family at around 6 a.m. and 6 p.m.

She and her husband can now come within two feet of the deer without disturbing them, she said, as they have come to know their friendly human neighbors.

“She has one fawn from last year who stays with her and she had twins this past year,” she said. None of the offspring is piebald. “I just started calling her Sweetie Pie because I was thinking she’s very gentle and she’s a piebald, so, Sweetie Pie.”

 gvolpe@timesreview.com

09/13/12 5:00pm
09/13/2012 5:00 PM

BARBARAELLEN KOCH FILE PHOTO | David Lee Fulton of Riverhead helped organize the EPCAL hunt back in 2001.

A bow-hunting lottery will be held later this month for local residents and landowners who wish to hunt deer in and around the former Grumman facility in Calverton, as well as a small area near Sound Avenue.

The lottery, scheduled for Sept. 24, will be open to all Riverhead residents and Riverhead property owners, town officials said.

Hunters will be able to choose one week to hunt between Oct. 8 and Dec. 2, in one of nine areas in Calverton or one section along Sound Avenue, Councilman George Gabrielsen said.

Each of the Calverton sections will be open to four hunters per week, while the section near Sound Avenue will be open to two hunters per week, he said.

This will be the first year landowners, who don’t necessarily reside in Riverhead, will be allowed to bow hunt in Riverhead; the lottery was previously only open to Riverhead residents. The change also allows business owners to participate, Mr. Gabrielsen said.

The lottery will be held in the Town Hall board room on Monday, Sept. 24, at 6 p.m.

psquire@timesreview.com

09/30/11 10:33am
09/30/2011 10:33 AM

BARBARAELLEN KOCH FILE PHOTO | David Lee Fulton of Riverhead helped organize the EPCAL hunt back in 2001.

There are still 210 out of 251 spots left for Riverhead hunters who want to take part in the seven-week-long bow hunt at Calverton Enterprise Park this fall, town officials said this week.

The hunt will be held for seven weeks from Oct. 10 until Nov. 27 at nine locations at EPCAL. Four hunters are assigned to each location for a one-week period. Only Riverhead residents may participate.

“There’s a lot of hunters in the Town of Riverhead, believe it or not,” said Town Board member and liaison to the town’s hunting committee, George Gabrielsen. But when a lottery was held on Tuesday for first choice on location and date, only about 38 hunters attended, he said. He speculated the lottery had not been well publicized and all 251 hunting spots will be booked by the start of the season.

Mr. Gabrielsen said the town decided to bring back bow hunting at EPCAL after a lapse of a decade because a shotgun hunting season last year had been so successful. Shotgun hunting season begins again in January.

Of the hunters, Mr. Gabrielson said, “They’re very responsible people.” Mr. Gabrielsen is a hunter himself.

Anyone interested in participating must bring his or her hunting and bow hunting licenses to Town Hall to apply for a spot. There is no fee.

10/31/10 8:08pm

10/31/2010 8:08 PM

SAMANTHA BRIX PHOTO A 10,000-square-foot archery arena opened in Calverton, offering 3-D, life-sized animal targets for advanced shooters only.

A

brand-new, “3-D target” indoor archery arena opened in Calverton on Oct. 1, the first day of hunting season.

The 10,000-square-foot facility called Thrill of the Hunt offers 30 life-size animals made of dense rubber as targets and five stations to shoot from, with six color-coded and numbered targets to shoot per station. Each round costs $18 and a competition costs $25.

Art Binder, a former horse trainer who owns the arena, said the construction of the facility began in early June and cost about $1 million.

He said the shooting range is not for the faint of heart. The arena only allows advanced shooters who have had experience at professional archery clubs.

“These aren’t toys,” he said, pointing to two compound bows with elliptical wheels displayed on the wall.

The arrows travel at a speed of 280 feet per second. The bows are made with an aluminum riser and a laminated rim. Cables and a string are attached between limbs on the top and bottom of the bow, creating leverage to release the arrow, he said.

And shooting requires pinpoint accuracy.

“It requires 100 percent concentration,” he said. “Ninety-five percent isn’t good enough.”

The indoor facility has a natural, outdoor feel, with a rolling terrain of dirt and different elevations. The animal targets include a fox, bobcat, turkey, mongoose, bear and deer in different positions. Circular targets are drawn on each animal’s vital area so that, as in hunting, the animal is shot and killed instantly and is not tortured with a slow, painful death.

Mr. Binder said archery shooters are not necessarily hunters, but both sports involve a respect for animal life.

“We don’t kill animals; we harvest them,” he said.

Mr. Binder, a 22-year Calverton resident, said archery is one of the fastest-growing sports in the country and expects business to pick up when hunting season on Long Island ends in January. Archery is one of the safest sports, he said, contending that there are more injuries in pingpong than in archery.

Wounded veterans can shoot at Thrill of the Hunt for free, and Mr. Binder is planning a Wounded Warrior charity event where he’ll hold a competition shoot and 50 percent of his earnings will be donated to the Wounded Warrior foundation.

One of the arena’s first shooters was Thomas Slawinski, who has shot at at least 150 archery ranges across the country. He counts Thrill of the Hunt as one of the top 10 arenas he’s ever visited.

He cited the large space of the facility and the fact that it has big mounds, a dirt ground and different elevations as reasons that make it stand out among others.

“[Mr. Binder] has a lot of potential to do different types of shooting positions and he can set up the course a different way any time he wants.” said Mr. Slawinski, a carpenter who says he shoots every weekend.

Currently, Mr. Slawinski holds the highest score at Thrill of the Hunt, raking in 304 points out of a possible 400.

Mr. Slawinski likens archery to golf.

“I enjoy the hobby of being in the outdoors, walking through the woods and trying to shoot your best score,” he said.

samantha@northshoresun.com


This post was originally published Oct. 19, 2010