The Huntington Town Board will consider allowing longbow hunting in Eatons Neck and Asharoken during deer season to help control overpopulation of the animal.
The board will have a public hearing on the issue at 2 p.m. Aug. 11. Residents will be able to comment on the two resolutions that would create an exception in the town's code on firearms to allow bow hunting. Hunters would be required to have a valid hunting license from the state Department of Environmental Conservation.
Town Supervisor Frank P. Petrone said the resolution would not be a "wholesale culling" and that it was intended for residents shooting deer on their own property.
Those supporting the resolutions argue that bow hunting would give property owners a way to protect themselves from deer they say are becoming increasingly aggressive. Opponents have said hunting the deer would be cruel and ineffective compared with other alternatives such as sterilization.
Members of Eatons Harbor Corp. attended a town board meeting last week, calling for passage of the resolutions. Officials from the property owners group said deer in the area are aggressive, cause motor vehicle accidents and increase risk of exposure to ticks and Lyme disease.
"It used to be a novelty to see one or two deer in the neighborhood," said Ken Kraska, administrator of EHC. "Now it's commonplace to see 12 to 24 roaming on your property."
"Our major concern is safety," Kraska said. "Traveling our roads is hazardous."
Asharoken resident Drew Mendelsohn objected to the resolutions. He said deer culling is inhumane and ineffective.
"I don't think it will solve the problem," he said.
Deer overpopulation has been a contentious issue throughout Suffolk County, particularly on the East End. Sharpshooters from the U.S. Department of Agriculture killed 192 deer on the North Fork last year in the largest federal deer-removal program in the state's history. The program fell short of proponents' goal of killing as many as 3,000 deer. Officials in East Hampton Village hired biologists to surgically sterilize female deer last winter in an experimental nonlethal population-control program.