Town mulls DEC request to eliminate town permits for deer hunters

Two deer grazing behind a Cutchogue. (Credit: Katharine Schroeder, file)
Two deer grazing behind a Cutchogue home. (Credit: Katharine Schroeder, file)

A decades-old law in Southold Town could soon be eliminated to ease the process for residents to obtain deer hunting permits following a recommendation from the state Department of Environmental Conservation.

The proposed legislation before the Southold Town Board would eliminate a 1960s law that requires hunters to receive a special permit from the town clerk’s office in addition to a state-issued hunting permit.

The DEC recommended the change after revisions to state law loosened deer hunting restrictions in Suffolk County, said Jeff Standish, the Southold director of public works, at Tuesday’s Town Board meeting.

The DEC adopted regulations in December that expanded deer hunting opportunities in the county in order to increase recreational hunting and better manage the overgrown deer population in the region. The bow hunting and firearm seasons were both extended.

The DEC also eliminated the need for hunters to obtain a special permit from the town to hunt. But for that to happen, the DEC is now requesting all Suffolk County towns pass new legislation waving the town permit.

The local provision was designed to limit the number of hunters in each town. However, applicant rates and the number of permits issued have been well below the maximum allowable, according to the DEC.

Peter Scully, the DEC regional director, called the local legislation “cumbersome” and “inconsistent with hunting requirements” now that the DEC is seeking to bolster deer hunting in the county.

Southold Town is now considering passing the DEC recommendation in order to “reduce the regulatory burden,” according to the draft legislation.

Mr. Standish told the board that obtaining the $1 local permit is a lengthy process for both the hunter and the clerk’s office. It’s not a significant revenue source, he said.

“The permit really means nothing,” Mr. Standish said. “It takes up a lot of time in the clerk’s office and it is not necessary. The state doesn’t even look for it anymore.”

Hunters still need to obtain proper state hunting permits.

The DEC is requesting municipalities adopt the local law change by June 1 for it to take effect prior to hunting season.

To accommodate that schedule, Southold Town is holding a special public hearing on the proposed legislation at noon May 28 at Southold Town Hall.

Riverhead Town passed the local legislation Tuesday.

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