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Asharoken mayor proposes limits on deer bow hunting

Cindy Gavel of Asharoken stands near a hunted

Cindy Gavel of Asharoken stands near a hunted deer on her property on Sunday, Nov. 13, 2016. Credit: Steve Pfost

Asharoken Mayor Greg Letica is proposing a law requiring that bow hunters stay 500 feet away from a neighbor’s house when shooting deer within the village — farther than the current 150 feet allowed under state law.

“By enacting this, hunting would be permissible only on Asharoken’s very largest properties, and only with the permission of the owners,” Letica said Monday in an email to residents. “This could be tried out for a year to see how it works.”

Last year Huntington Town passed a law allowing bow hunting of deer on private property within the town with the property owner’s consent. The move followed a change in state Department of Environmental Conservation regulations that lowered the setback requirements for bow hunting deer to 150 feet from the previous 500 feet.

Asharoken, as an incorporated village in Huntington, is not subject to the town’s law. But bow hunting consistent with state regulations is allowed within the village, Letica said Wednesday.

Letica’s proposal follows a Nov. 13 incident in which a deer hit by a hunter’s arrow in the village ran away to die on the property of a neighbor, Cindy Gavel, who opposes hunting in the residential area.

“Recent events have illustrated that … a 150-[foot] setback from a neighbor’s house for bow hunting may not be sufficient for our village,” Letica said in the email. “It still may not be enough [distance] for the physical and psychological well-being of our residents.”

Gavel said she was unsatisfied with the mayor’s proposal.

“The village should immediately impose a moratorium on bow hunting until it can come up with a more palatable solution or immediately impose the 500-foot setback,” she said.

While a group of hunting opponents has renewed its efforts for a village-wide hunting ban, Letica said he opposes that option.

Overpopulation of deer remains “very problematic from the health and safety perspective for the human beings that they live alongside,” Letica said in the email, citing the risks the deer pose, including the spread of tick-borne Lyme disease and vehicle collisions. Many Asharoken residents have shared those concerns, including Kathy Affrunti, who allows hunting on her property and said she has about eight deer in her backyard at any given time.

“I moved to Asharoken because I love the wildlife,” Affrunti said. “However there is a safety issue now because of the [deer] overpopulation. My family has contracted Lyme and many of my friends have contracted Lyme.”

Letica said any law change would take several months, and invited residents to provide feedback on the proposal.

“Doing nothing and allowing the deer population to grow unchecked is not in the best interests of the village,” Letica wrote, adding that hunting is the only “viable option.”

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