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Little impact seen from DEC deer kill regs

JIM COLLIGAN PHOTO A herd of deer from last winter's hunting season.

JIM COLLIGAN PHOTO
A herd of deer from last winter’s hunting season.

Hunters in the area will have to wait longer than usual to begin going after trophy bucks once the bowhunting season begins in October.

As part of an effort to curb deer overpopulation, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation announced new rules August 6 allowing only antlerless deer to be hunted in certain regions during the first 15 days of the season.

The effort will be the first time the state environmental regulatory agency has curbed buck hunting in Suffolk County. Shelter Island has imposed its own limits, requiring a minimum number of antlerless deer — generally females — be taken before a hunter can kill a buck.

The DEC’s new regulations apply to specific portions of the state, including Suffolk County, where excessive deer populations are causing a slew of negative effects, from environmental damage to car accidents to tick-borne illnesses.

Last year, the Long Island Farm Bureau conducted a deer cull on the East End that was both controversial and virtually ineffective: with $200,000 in state funding and $25,000 of funding from Southold Town, sharpshooters killed fewer than 200 deer. An LIFB executive said the cull “didn’t work,” returning half of Southold’s $25,000 contribution back to the town.

Shelter Island rejected use of sharpshooters, although with waning numbers of hunters during either the bow or shotgun seasons, that could be back on the table for discussion in the future.

Making hunters aim for antlerless deer only has been attempted in the state’s Northern Zone in the past, “until they accomplished their purpose” a state spokeswoman said.

“Responsible management requires periodic adjustment of hunting rules to ensure that deer populations are compatible with local socioeconomic interests as well as maintaining a balanced ecosystem,” said DEC Acting Commissioner Marc Gerstman in a press release.

However, some East End hunters doubt whether those regulations will be effective at addressing a serious local problem.

Mike Scheibel, who heads Shelter Island’s Deer & Tick Committee and is Mashomack Preserve’s natural resources manager, sees the new restrictions has having little impact here.

Island hunters have been calling for a later start to the bowhunting season, with and some notgoing out until November.

For the time being, the town has been focusing on use of 4-poster program, which are units baited with corn and as the deer eat, their necks are coated with the tickicide permethrin.

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