Editorial: Show your face before taking a stand

(Credit: Times/Review Stock art)

A movement is underway to boycott wine produced in Southold Town. It’s a response to the support the Long Island Farm Bureau and Southold Town have given the USDA sharpshooter deer cull that began here last month.

A Facebook page called Boycott Southold Wine has received about 1,800 “likes” since it was created.

The authors of the page are asking visitors to Long Island Wine Country to stop buying wine from Southold Town vineyards and tasting rooms until their owners, who have allowed the cull to take place on their properties, switch to “non-lethal methods.”

They are also encouraging Southold Town residents to report wineries and other businesses that allow sharpshooters to hunt on their land by placing confidential calls to an unlisted number, where they’ll be greeted by a robot voice urging them to share their information on an “anonymous hotline.”

It’s this sort of over-the-top secrecy and the resulting lack of accountability that have us most concerned about a group — or individual — that has the gall to ask you to hurt local businesses but lacks the guts to reveal its own identity.

The agricultural community, which has for centuries helped to make Southold Town the special place it is today, has been under attack by a nuisance deer population that long ago grew beyond manageable. The deer have destroyed crops, wreaked havoc on residential properties and become hazards on our roadways. Additionally, the tick-borne illnesses the deer carry — Lyme and babesiosis among the chief examples — have helped create what many are calling a public health crisis.

The process that led to the cull is an example of democracy at work for the betterment of our community. The town sponsored several public meetings about the deer crisis, the Town Board approved participation in the sharpshooter program in a public setting and a state Supreme Court justice upheld the town’s decision.

Although these editorial pages said just last week that some questions remain about what’s going on — and we’re still waiting for answers — it’s been a process that our democratic and legal structure has allowed to occur. That process needs to be improved, no doubt. And last week’s judicial decision suspending the issuance of permits for the cull reflects that.

But hiding inside the cloak of anonymity to single out an entire industry that’s working within that process is both irrational and cowardly.

We believe you should continue to support Southold wine producers and any other business on the North Fork participating in the cull — now more than ever before.

Our country has a rich history of protests and boycotts — with names and faces attached — for causes that have had a positive impact on countless communities. This current effort is not one of them.