07/09/13 8:00am
07/09/2013 8:00 AM

DUANE ARNISTER PHOTO | The DEC has confirmed this photo taken in Water Mill is of a coyote.

Speaking before the Southold Town Board in August 2011, Fishers Island resident Charles Kadushin said his cat had been missing for months and he believed coyotes living on the island were to blame.

While Fishers Island is a part of Southold Town, its location 15 miles off the North Fork meant there was little danger of the coyote population spreading to the East End, where state Department of Environmental Conservation officials say the mammal hadn’t been spotted in more than a century.

Now, two years later, a photo depicting a coyote walking across a farm field on Blank Lane in Water Mill has erased that statistic. The New York State DEC confirmed last week the animal shown in the photograph is a coyote and that an investigation has since been launched.

“Investigators have gone out to tour the site,” said DEC spokesman Bill Fonda. “[They’re looking] for scat, paw marks or anything the coyote may have been eating.”

Mr. Fonda said the first attempt by DEC officials to track down the coyote and its possible pack was unsuccessful last Wednesday, and no paw marks were visible, though he said the search began one week after the photograph was taken and it had rained for several days in between. He added that investigators will continue to search the area for the animal periodically.

While the coyotes living on Fishers Island are believed to have arrived by swimming two miles from Connecticut, where state officials say coyotes have been a part of the ecosystem since the mid-1950s, it is unclear how a coyote might have found its way to the South Fork.

Mr. Kadushin said Monday that coyotes can still be heard howling at the sound of Fishers Island’s noon whistle each and every day, believes the Water Mill sighting is not connected to his hometown of 236 year-round residents.

“That would be impossible,” he said. “The current’s just too strong.”

Mr. Fonda said DEC officials also believe there is no way the coyote seen in Water Mill could have come from Fishers Island and while there have been sightings in Queens in recent years there have not been reports of the animal in Nassau County, making it unlikely the coyote traveled all the way from the city.

In order to swim from Connecticut to the North Fork, the coyote would have to swim close to 10 miles, also an unlikely feat for animals that experts say can typically swim about a half-mile at a time.

“Maybe it was somebody’s pet at some point and it escaped,” Mr. Fonda theorized.

Coyotes were one of the animals included on a furbearers survey released by the DEC in May, in which Suffolk residents were asked to report a physical description, location, habitat and to send a photograph when spotting an unusual mammal.

Mr. Fonda said the local DEC district has received many photographs of foxes but last week’s coyote photo was the first of its kind.

“Until now they had been seen on Fishers Island and Queens but that’s it,” he said.

In the two years since he approached the Town Board, Mr. Kadushin said no research has been conducted to determine the coyote population on Fishers Island, where they’ve been known to kill many household and feral cats.

“There’s no way to tell how many there are here,” he said. “They tag and track them in other places. That’s not being done here.”

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A map of the farm field where a coyote was spotted in Water Mill more than a week ago.

02/08/13 2:00am
02/08/2013 2:00 AM

GIANNA VOLPE PHOTO | Duckwalk Vineyards has been in court over a lawsuit with a California winemaker.

Duck Walk is fighting a cross-country duck war.

Though the wineries are on opposite ends of the country, Duckhorn Wine Company of St. Helena, Calif., and Long Island’s Duck Walk Vineyards have their feathers ruffled over their common denominator: the image of a duck.

Duckhorn filed a complaint against Duck Walk last month in Napa County Superior Court for breaching a contract formed in 2003 between the companies, according to the Napa Valley Register website. That agreement followed lawsuits by the companies against one another for trademark infringement.

Duckhorn is now accusing Duck Walk of failing to indicate its Long Island location on the front label of its bottles, according to Duckhorn attorney Charles Bunsow of San Francisco. He said agreement violations can be seen on Duck Walk’s 2007 cabernet and 2005 merlot labels. Court documents include other examples from 2008 and 2009 as evidence of violations.

“They do not have the required geographical designation on them, which is a clear violation of the settlement agreement they entered into in 2003,” Mr. Bunsow said in an interview with The Suffolk Times. “It couldn’t be more obvious. I’m shocked they even say they’re going to contest this.”

Representatives for Duck Walk, which has locations in Southold and Water Mill, say they haven’t violated the agreement.

Attorney Steven Schlesinger of Garden City, who represents Duck Walk, insisted that “every bottle has the geographical location on it.

“They can’t read,” Mr. Schlesinger said. “The agreement requires us to put the geographical location on the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms’ front label, which is the back label to the consumer.”

The original agreement, forged with Dan Duckhorn, who founded the Duckhorn winery in 1976, outlined specific circumstances and ways in which Duck Walk, which opened in 1994, could reference the waterfowl.

In addition to requiring mention of Long Island, court documents show that the agreement limits Duck Walk’s production and distribution of wines with labels that include images of ducks or use the word “duck” — including in the winery’s name, according to Mr. Schlesinger.

He speculated that the timing of the lawsuit could be an attempt by Duckhorn’s new corporate owners to duck out of the agreement.

“I think they’re pissed that we have an agreement to use ‘duck’ and they’re trying to wiggle out of it,” he said. “They’re of the opinion that they have a trademark on all ducks. The problem is they’re not going to win that case if they want to litigate it. They will never establish that they own the word ‘duck’ or get us to change our name altogether.”

Under the terms of the existing agreement, Duck Walk’s production of wines with bottles bearing duck images or language is limited to 84,000 gallons per year. It also states that Duck Walk “shall not sell more than 50 percent of the annual gross production outside the states of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut.”

Mr. Schlesinger said there hasn’t been a violation there either, and that Duck Walk’s total production has not exceeded 65,000 gallons.

“Virtually 100 percent of our distributors are in the metropolitan area and one third of our production is sold at the vineyards,” he said. “If a distributor re-distributes our products somewhere else, that’s not our problem.”

Mr. Bunsow said the restriction was created to limit Duck Walk’s use of a confusingly similar mark.

“We’ll see if they lived up to that,” he said of the distribution restrictions. “If they want to sell more wine, they’re free to use a different label.”

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