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Southold looks to fill wildlife management position — again

Southold wildlife discussion with Jim McMahon, Denis Noncarrow

Southold Town will advertise again for a wildlife management position that has not been filled since the Town Board first backed its creation in August 2015.

The board had envisioned a part-time position that would involve lobbying residents to permit hunters on their property in an effort to curb the deer population, but the advertisement for the job, which ran in September, did not included that among the position’s responsibilities, Councilman Robert Ghosio during a Town Board work session last Tuesday.

“I can’t believe the battle this has been to set up and create a part-time position to do what it is that we want,” Mr. Ghosio said. “We finally get around, a year later, to advertise for this $17,000 position to help us to organize this stuff and because of the constraints that have been put on us by Civil Service, we didn’t get the response that we needed or wanted … It’s a hindrance and I’m disgusted by it, to be perfectly honest.”

The state Department of Environmental Conservation is requiring the town to implement a deer management plan, which the Town Board approved last week. The plan calls for a deer density of eight to 10 animals per square mile. The current deer population in Southold far exceeds that, at about 50 per square mile, said Jim McMahon, former director of the town’s department of public works.

“One of the difficulties of trying to come up with a plan is engaging more hunters and property owners to allow hunting on their property,” Mr. McMahon said. “There’s an awful lot of deer refuge in our communities and the only way we’re going to reduce the number of deer is to open up some of those areas of public and private lands to hunting.”

Mr. McMahon said he thinks hiring a wildlife manager is an important step toward reaching that goal.

“Basically it boils down to we need to educate the public about the dangers of ticks and how to drive safely this time of year on our roads,” he said, adding that the program’s goal is not to eradicate deer.

To get a response from desired candidates, Mr. Ghosio said he drafted a new job description, but he anticipates pushback from civil service because it’s not the same job description made public through the earlier ad.

The civil service job description, listed as “Part Time Environmental Analyst,” calls for someone with a bachelor’s degree in mathematics, natural or physical sciences, environmental studies or a related field plus at least two years’ experience in environmental protection activities. That person, according to the posting, would “consult on the environmental impact of actions or decisions being considered,” as well as draft legislation concerning the environment and compile inventory of all environmental resources within the town.

“It doesn’t talk about wildlife management whatsoever,” Mr. Ghosio said.

The councilman said he asked the one person the town did interview for the position: What do you think your job is going to be?

“The answer was ‘process permits’ because that’s what the Environmental Analyst posting from Civil Service is telling you,” Mr. Ghosio said.

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Photo: Jim McMahon, former director of the town’s department of public works, (from right) and Southold’s government liaison officer Denis Noncarrow addressing the Town Board last Tuesday. (Credit: Paul Squire)