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Island hunters meet at Town Hall

“Thanks for getting a record number of deer taken last season,” were the words of Animal Control Officer Beau Payne at Tuesday’s meeting of the Deer and Tick Committee at Town Hall.

The total number for deer killed is 448, which includes the recreational hunt for Oct. 1, 2018 through January 31, 2019, and the “deer damage permit” hunt in February and March of this year.

Eight hunters and numerous Town officials showed up at the first meeting of the season.

Dr. Jim Bevilacqua chaired the meeting. Member Marc Wein and Officer Payne were the other committee members present. Town Board members Jim Colligan, Albert Dickson and Amber Brach-Williams, along with Police Chief Jim Read also attended.

Officer Payne explained that he has established a new relationship with Suffolk County concerning hunting on properties jointly owned by the county and the town.

“This is for the archery program, and we maintain the final authority on scheduling and safety concerns,” he said.

Archery hunting season begins on Oct. 1. All county and Island properties will display signage indicating that hunting is taking place. Hikers still may use the properties, according to Officer Payne.

Officer Payne noted that hunting eligibility would be extended to Suffolk County archers who have the required permits. The properties involved are on Cobbetts Lane, Dering Harbor East and west, Cackle Hill Farm, Brandenstein’s, Section 9 in Hay Beach and “maybe Turkem’s Neck,” Officer Payne explained.

He added that the nursery property in the Center would no longer be hunted because so many use it for other recreational purposes.

“These hunts will be by reservation only and archery parking permits must be displayed in the designated spaces adjacent to the hunted lands,” he said.

When asked if it would be better for hunters to be able to make reservations by computer, Officer Payne said that when he looked into it two years ago, the cost was too much, but he agreed to look at it again.

Mr. Colligan thanked the hunters for their work with the deer management plan.

“You put a big dent in the population,” he said, adding that the goal is to cut the herd in half by 2022. He and Dr. Bevilacqua agreed that the recreational hunters are the mainstay of control on the Island.

It was also explained that there is going to be an effort to incentivize new hunters young and old, male and female. “Let’s see what they need in the way of equipment to get started and try to help them out,” Dr. Bevilacqua said.

The idea of getting new people started in the sport of hunting came from a letter written by Town Board candidate Julia Weisenberg, who is running on the Republican line this November.

Chief Read added that he feels that the Island needs more locations for hunting. “We have to add properties,” he said.