Farmers with pending nuisance permits get OK

Deer in the backyard of a Southold home. (Credit: Katharine Schroeder, file)
Deer in the backyard of a Southold home. (Credit: Katharine Schroeder, file)

Several farmers who were previously unable to receive deer damage permits to hunt on their property offseason now have the green light to do so.

Arising as an unintended consequence from a lawsuit aimed at a controversial deer cull, a state Supreme Court judge put a halt to new DDPs this March but temporarily lifted the order against the state Department of Environmental Conservation last week. 

The damage permits, frequently called nuisance permits, were needed to participate in the cull, which was led by the Long Island Farm Bureau. But after opponents of the cull filed a lawsuit in an attempt to stop it in its tracks, the issuance of any new DDP permits was put on hold while a judge reviewed the details of the case.

State Supreme Court Judge Gerard Asher temporarily lifted the order on Friday, denying a motion for an injunction on the permits and allowing permit applications currently pending before the DEC to be processed — 12 applications in all, according to a press release from the Wildlife Preservation Coalition of Eastern Long Island, one of the organizations that pursued litigation.

Judge Asher found the number of currently pending permits is in line with those issued in past years and decided that those applications can move forward, according to the release.

The coalition pursuing the injunction claims in its statement that the DEC and Southold Town didn’t look into the environmental impacts of the cull properly. They also allege that the DEC renews such permits “without a factual basis and contrary to agency guidelines.”

A majority of the tags are for does, which are specifically targeted to curtail the deer population.

LIFB executive director Joseph Gergela said in a previous interview about the restraining order that the nuisance permit program “is not meant to be used as a prize-hunting permit; it’s to control the deer on the farm.”

While happy with the decision, Mr. Gergela called the decision “kind of late in the game,” as bow hunting season starts Oct. 1.

Jamesport farmer and Riverhead Town Councilman George Gabrielsen called Friday’s decision “definitely good news. When we are without nuisance permits, a whole other generation [of deer] is getting into the system that we cannot eliminate,” he said. “We are quickly falling behind in terms of controlling populations.”

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