04/02/14 7:46pm
04/02/2014 7:46 PM


Opponents — and supporters — of a deer cull being carried out by the United States Department of Agriculture are still waiting, and will continue to wait, for court proceedings to resume after a court date scheduled for last Friday was indefinitely delayed by a state judge, who sought more time to read up on the facts on the case before hearing both sides.


03/07/14 11:41am
03/07/2014 11:41 AM
(Credit: Jim Colligan, file)

(Credit: Jim Colligan, file)

As the old saying goes: if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.

And so it went for opponents of a federal operation to cull deer across the East End — to a degree.

A state Supreme Court judge ruled yesterday that the Department of Environmental Conservation can no longer issue any deer damage permits in relation to the program, at least until March 28, limiting the number of deer that will be killed.

However, permits and deer tags that have been issued can be filled under the existing permits, the judge ruled.


10/04/13 7:58am
10/04/2013 7:58 AM

KATHARINE SCHROEDER PHOTO |  The deer population on the North Fork continues to grow.

One unarguable takeaway from last week’s deer forum in Peconic is that more needs to be done to cull the herd on the North Fork — and hunting seems to be the most financially feasible way to do it.

The town has improved its deer management program in recent years by increasing the town-owned land open to hunters from 200 acres in 2008 to more than 525 this season. Hunters have reacted by expressing keen interest, filling up all the available program slots over the past two years. Last year’s take was four times the 2009 total.

RELATED: Next generation of sportsmen needed to manage deer population

But until state legislators give town leaders more freedom to regulate hunting on the local level, there is only so much the local program can do, because it’s simply unable to keep pace with the rapidly growing number of deer on the North Fork. An effort to let towns reduce the distance bowhunters must maintain from nearby dwellings from 500 to 150 feet has stalled in the state Assembly, resulting in a dead end for now.

One option Supervisor Scott Russell supports, and we hope Town Board members will back, would be to earmark $25,000 in next year’s budget to support a sharpshooting program through the U.S. Department of Agriculture to target deer in specific areas. While details have yet to be spelled out – including exactly where deer would be targeted or how many can be expected to be taken – Long Island Farm Bureau executive director Joe Gergela said the program would be rolled out over several years, culling the herd in hot spots where they’re known to congregate.

This option would cost far less than implementing a local version of Shelter Island’s 4-poster program — a multi-million dollar solution that fits that town better due to the high density of deer. Contributing its fair share toward the LIFB’s sharpshooting efforts – which would include $200,000 in state grant money and $25,000 from each of the five East End towns plus Brookhaven — would be a wise investment toward managing Southold’s overwhelming deer population.

Next year’s proposed town budget also includes an additional $50,000 the supervisor said could be used to incentivize hunting. More details were not immediately available but it sounds like a fresh idea.

Since it’s unlikely that just $75,000 can be expected to solve the town’s deer problem long-term, another option avid hunters also point out is to interest more young people in hunting. “Less video games” is their common cry and they emphasize that an appreciation for the outdoors is paramount if the end game is to manage the deer herd appropriately.

That’s hard to argue with.

A group now appears to be forming that wants to promote hunting among North Fork youth. That effort would be welcome and we’re interested to see how it evolves.

10/13/10 5:19pm
10/13/2010 5:19 PM

SUFFOLK TIMES FILE PHOTO Lab 257 on Plum Island, visible at left, was built as a storage facility during World War I and later was used for foot-and-mouth disease studies. It was vacated and mothballed in the mid-1990s.

The clock is ticking on the future of Plum Island, and environmental advocates have banded together to fight to preserve the 840-acre property.
The island, just east of Orient Point, has been the site of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Plum Island Animal Disease Center since 1954, though work there has been overseen by the Department of Homeland Security since 2003. The federal government last year announced plans to sell the island and build a more high-tech animal disease research facility in Kansas.
Last Wednesday, Oct. 6, the Department of Homeland Security gave a tour of the island to a group of environmentalists.
The tour was conducted for the Long Island Sound Study Group, a cooperative effort of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the states of New York and Connecticut, which has named Plum Island a significant estuary. Also on the tour were members of Preserve Plum Island, a Long Island-based coalition of 36 environmental groups ranging from local groups to the international Wildlife Conservation Society.
Preserve Plum Island is asking the Department of Homeland Security to transfer the wild portion of the island to the Fish and Wildlife Service as a nature preserve.
It wouldn’t be the only preserve in the area, which is an important flyway for at least 100 species of migrating birds. Great Gull Island, just to the east of Plum Island, is a bird sanctuary and a tern study area run by the American Museum of Natural History. Another small rocky outcropping known as The Ruins, once part of Gardiners Island, was given to the Fish and Wildlife Service last year.
“I think they’re interested. They’re in the area,” said Nature Conservancy policy advisor Randy Parsons of the Fish and Wildlife Service. Mr. Parsons was on the tour last Wednesday.
He said that The Nature Conservancy is pushing the federal government to complete a four-season biological inventory of the plants and animals on the island before the sale can be completed. The U.S. General Services Administration, the agency responsible for the sale of the island, is in the process of compiling a draft environmental impact statement detailing environmental issues that must be addressed before the sale. The EIS was initially expected to be complete this month but has been delayed until later this fall.
Environmental contamination on the island is a potential stumbling block for the sale. Mr. Parsons said that the U.S. General Accounting Office has documented several dozen toxic contamination sites on the island and has estimated the clean-up costs at as much as $190 million.
“There is definitely the feeling that the federal government shouldn’t be trying to market this thing. They should be cleaning up the mess and restore the island to its pre-U.S. government condition,” he said. “But I don’t think a lot of this would have come to light if they weren’t going to sell it.”
Stella Miller, president of the Huntington-Oyster Bay Audubon Society and a founder of Preserve Plum Island, was also on Wednesday’s tour. She said she was particularly impressed by a visit to a rocky outcropping on the island where 50 seals were hauled out on the rocks. She said that as many as 300 seals haul out at Plum Island at one time.
“Birds travel thousands of miles during migration and spots like Plum Island are necessary for their survival,” she said.
She said that tour participants were given an overview of work done on the island but that her tour guides were not interested in discussing the future of the facility, despite the fact that the visit was widely described in the media as a real estate open house.
“They didn’t go there,” she said. “They stayed neutral.”
GSA representative Paula Santangelo also remained stoic in her agency’s position on the future of the island.
“While the EIS will present several re-use scenarios, GSA doesn’t advocate any particular reuse,” she said Friday.
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