East Hampton opts out of planned deer cull

White-tailed deer intrude on the property of homes

White-tailed deer intrude on the property of homes in Southold on Nov. 17, 2013. Photo Credit: Randee Daddona

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The Village of East Hampton has joined several other East End municipalities in deciding not to participate in a controversial deer reduction program that involves federal sharpshooters thinning the herd.

In a statement released Friday, the village blamed the lack of support by surrounding municipalities. Southampton, Brookhaven, Riverhead and Shelter Island towns are not participating.

"It was the intent and desire of the village to address wildlife management issues with a regional approach, but as surrounding municipalities have not committed to participate, it no longer seems a project the village can tackle on its own," the village said in a statement. "The village remains committed in moving forward in this manner with its local government counterparts."

Newsday Friday reported that the U.S. Department of Agriculture had scaled back its plan to reduce the herd, planning to kill around 1,000 animals from a formerly stated 2,000 to 3,000.

East Hampton Village's decision leaves Southold Town as the only participating municipality. Officials said the cull also would take place on state parkland and on unspecified private property.

"We're moving forward," Scott Russell, supervisor of Southold Town, said Friday night.

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Representatives from the U.S. Department of Agriculture are canvassing the town looking for private property on which to conduct the program, he said, and Southold will spend $25,000 to help fund the cull, which will take place over 40 nights starting in mid-February.

Animal rights advocates, including many in East Hampton, had strongly objected to the program and filed suit to block it.

The village's decision to withdraw follows by a day a state Supreme Court judge's decision to issue a temporary restraining order against the Town of East Hampton from entering a contract with the Long Island Farm Bureau and the USDA to cull the deer, according to Bill Crain, president of the East Hampton Group for Wildlife, a party to the action.

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