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Smithtown considers DEC request to waive town permits for hunters

Smithtown Town Board members are mulling whether to adopt a local law to waive a requirement that hunters obtain special permits from the town clerk's office.

New York Department of Environmental Conservation officials are recommending that Suffolk County towns waive the requirement via local law by June 1 so the order can take effect for the following hunting season, according to a letter from regional director Peter Scully obtained by Newsday.

"The town permit requirement is cumbersome for hunters, municipalities and the Department and is inconsistent with hunting requirements elsewhere in New York," Scully wrote in the April 17 letter. "Elimination of these permits will reduce the regulatory burden on hunters while still allowing effective deer and hunter management."

Scully said the permit waiver stemmed from legislation by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo that amended state environmental conservation law in August to allow for the expansion of archery and deer hunting seasons and simplify firearms deer hunting in Suffolk County. The special permit requirement was established in the 1960s and was designed to limit the number of hunters in each town, which Scully said is currently well below permit quotas. The law extended bowhunting season for deer in Suffolk from Oct. 1 through Jan. 31 and expanded special firearms season for deer in Suffolk to run from the first Sunday in January through Jan. 31, including weekends. Hunters will still need the state hunting permits.

A DEC official said that as of Tuesday, no Suffolk town had decided to waive the requirement, adding that the letter to town supervisors was recently mailed.

Smithtown Town Supervisor Patrick Vecchio said in an interview Tuesday that he is opposed to the measure but is open to discussing it. Smithtown Town Clerk Vincent Puleo said Tuesday that his office receives about two to three permit applications each from owners of hunting properties and hunters each year. The permits cost $1 each.

"I'm always for less regulation," Puleo said. "The time that we spend for giving the permits . . . there's no benefit."

Councilman Robert Creighton said he wants to discuss the waiver with fellow town board members at a scheduled work session Tuesday.

"I would go for the waiver . . . because I think the deer are out of control," he said. "I love the animals, but they're all over the place."

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