All five East End towns already have policies on the books when it comes to managing their own deer herds.
But a new approach spearheaded by Suffolk County Legislator Al Krupski hopes to create a unified plan among all the towns about to best control wildlife — which know no municipal borders.
“It’s really beneficial to get together to discuss different strategies to come up with the best solutions,” Mr. Krupski said after the committee’s first meeting Wednesday at Cornell Cooperative Extension in Riverhead. “Everyone here is interested in addressing the health and safety problems.”
Mr. Krupski said he decided to organize the meeting in order to find out which local practices have worked and failed.
The volunteer committee members agreed with the legislator’s outlook over how the growing deer population needs to be addressed in order to decrease tick-borne illnesses, damage to the environment and the danger of hitting a deer with a vehicle.
Some members said they believe tourism could suffer if visitors decide not to come to the East End out of fear of contracting tick-borne illnesses.
Others said they believe a deer cull is the only solution since there are no natural predators like coyote in the area and would like to create incentives for hunters.
In 2013, a deer cull controversy sparked over discussions about the value of using $225,000 in state funding to hire federal sharpshooters to reduce the deer population on the East End. The following year, the final tally of just 192 deer killed was announced and deemed a disappointment to many stakeholders.
In addition to officials from the East End towns, representatives from the New York State Department of Conservation, state Senator Ken LaValle and Assemblyman Fred Thiele’s offices, Brookhaven National Lab, Eastern Long Island Audubon Society, and Long Island Farm Bureau also attended the meeting.
The committee also plans to invite environmental advocacy groups to join in on the discussion.
Mr. Krupski said the next steps including having each town representative share their deer management policies, have a discussion about each program and come up with a couple of “clearly defined recommendations” to the state.
He also believes each town should hold forums to continue discussions with the public.
“Every town should continue to have those forums,” he said. “The public has got to be a part of it.”
The next meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. on July 9 at Cornell Cooperative Extension.
For more information about the committee’s efforts, call Mr. Krupski’s office at 631-852-3200.