East Hampton expands deer hunting area

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East Hampton's town board has voted to add four town-owned properties totaling 326 acres to the lands where deer can be hunted during the state bow season in the fall.

The 5-0 vote came Thursday night after a public hearing where few people spoke.

Deer are not merely an annoyance in East Hampton, where car accidents caused by deer running in front of autos on winding roads are a common occurrence.

"It's a matter of safety," Supervisor Bill Wilkinson said.

The new areas where bow hunting will be permitted include 71 acres at the former Ross School in Wainscott, 56 acres of the Duke Estate property in East Hampton, 122 acres at Amsterdam Beach and 77 acres at the Cavett/Amsterdam property, both in Montauk. Last year's bow season in Suffolk County ran from Oct. 1 to Dec. 31.

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Officials have spent years debating ways to control the increasing deer population in East Hampton, with some people suggesting that birth control would be better than hunting. Others see that method as impractical for a herd that moves from place to place and can swim away to Shelter Island.

Animal rights activists have attended town board meetings over the years to argue that all hunting is barbaric. The expansion of the bow hunting areas drew criticism from people who said it was the worst way to hunt because death was not instantaneous.

But others in town have complained that deer and the ticks found on them add to the number of cases of Lyme disease and other tick-borne illnesses.

A town report on controlling the deer population earlier this year said one option could be to hire sharpshooters to thin the herd.

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