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Town campaign to inform public on hunting

It’s not news that the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic has changed everything. But another area of public safety has had Animal Control Officer Beau Payne and Police Chief Jim Read putting their heads together to protect Island residents and visitors.

With the realization of the influx of second homeowners who came to the Island early in the spring, and many of whom are staying on for the near future or deciding to live here permanently, hunting rules and regulations had to be considered to inform the public and take steps for safety.

At Wednesday’s Town Board work session, Officer Payne reiterated the state laws regulating the hunting seasons, and noted some public spaces on the Island where hunting will be postponed.

• Hunting is permitted on public and private property.

• The Town of Shelter Island regulates hunting on town-owned property.

• The recreational deer archery season will open on Oct. 1 and run through Jan. 31. The seasonal hours are sunrise to sunset, seven days a week.

• The deer firearm season (shotguns) opens Jan. 3 and is over on Jan. 31, and also is seven days a week from sunrise to sunset.

• “Deer Damage Permit” hunting is Feb. 1 to March 31, seven days a week with no restricted hours. (Deer damage, or “nuisance,” hunting helps communities overrun with deer by allowing special licenses issued by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation to hunt outside the regular hunting seasons.)

• Various waterfowl and small game seasons began opening Sept. 8.

The areas that will be closed to hunting  “until at least” Nov. 1, Officer Payne said, are:

• Sachems Woods

• Nursery Woodlands

• Crab Creek

• Cackle Hill Preserve

• Mildred Flower Hird Nature Preserve East & West

• Section 9

• Turkum’s Rest

• St. Gabriel’s

Anyone donating deer to the town’s cooler or picking up venison must observe COVID-19 safety protocols.

To ensure public awareness of the hunting seasons and the closure of certain areas to hunting, the town will advertise in the Reporter, post notices on social media and add signage in public spaces.

The town will also contact property owners who are in the hunting program and coordinate with Sylvester Manor and Mashomack.