The Huntington Town Council’s legalization of longbow deer hunting, while focused on Eatons Neck and Asharoken Village, actually allows the practice townwide, town officials acknowledge.
The revelation means hunters with permits — who can identify areas that comply with state Department of Environmental Conservation regulations — will be able to hunt outside the two North Shore communities that were the focus of talks that led to amending Huntington’s firearms code in September.
“The amendment to town code does not restrict bow hunting to any particular area of the town,” A.J. Carter, a spokesman for town Supervisor Frank P. Petrone, said in an email.
After an Aug. 11 public hearing on the issue, Petrone was asked by Newsday if the two resolutions would “absolutely” limit bow hunting to Eatons Neck and Asharoken.
“Yes,” he said. “It’s those two areas we’re thinking of. . . . It’s worked out with the DEC, basically, because those were the two areas where they [deer] are invasive.”
Town officials said last week that board members knew the resolutions applied townwide when they unanimously passed them, despite public discussions that focused on Eatons Neck and Asharoken.
Some residents of Eatons Neck and Asharoken who oppose bow hunting have said more Huntington residents would have participated in the talks had they had known they had townwide implications.
“The majority of the Town of Huntington residents were unaware it would affect them,” Eatons Neck resident Christine Ballow said. “Everything was wrapped around Eatons Neck and Asharoken. So if I was sitting in Greenlawn or Centerport, I would think this wouldn’t affect me.”
Nadine Dumser, a resident of Asharoken with property in Eatons Neck, said, “If people of Huntington knew this law applied to everywhere . . . there would be more outrage.”
Helen Patrikis, 55, who lives in Huntington’s Oakwood neighborhood, said she had no idea the resolutions applied to the entire town. Patrikis said she does not have a deer problem in her neighborhood, but said, “the town could have done more to educate” residents about the breadth of the legislation and how hunting is regulated.
“I consider myself pretty well-informed, and . . . I don’t think there was an adequate job done of communicating to the township what this would mean for everyone, not just . . . Eatons Neck and Asharoken,” Patrikis said.
Carter said in an interview that officials did not expect deer hunting to be widespread outside of Asharoken and Eatons Neck because of stringent DEC requirements.
“In practice, there really are no other places in town that fit the requirements in terms of the amount of land and the separation of houses and schools,” he said.
However, neither town nor DEC officials could specify in exactly which parts of Huntington bow hunting could occur.
According to state regulations, hunters must have DEC-issued hunting and bow hunting permits, and they cannot shoot deer on public property, including parks. They also must be at least 150 feet from a home, school or other occupied building to discharge their arrows. The DEC prohibits trespassing on private property, so hunters need land owners’ permission to hunt.
Town officials said the idea to allow bow hunting was driven by many people in Eatons Neck and Asharoken who said deer overpopulation had become a massive problem, with increasingly aggressive and destructive deer.
Many from the two communities testified at the town hearing that they were fearful on their own property because groups of deer were fearlessly gathering on their lawns. Others spoke out about the personal effects of Lyme disease, and they raised the danger the animals posed on unlit roads at night.
“The safety issue, the health issue, have been predominant concerns of the residents,” Joe DeRosa, president of the homeowner association Eatons Harbor Corp., said in September.
Hunting season began Oct. 1 and runs through Jan. 31.