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Bowhunting in more suburban Asharoken draws safety concerns

Cindy Gavel, of Asharoken, stands near a hunted

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

Cindy Gavel was horrified recently when she witnessed a deer leap over a fence and onto her Asharoken property with an arrow sticking out of its back. Soon after, it died on her land.

Gavel said she was not surprised by the incident: She had predicted such an event at Village of Asharoken trustee meetings earlier this month and in October when she argued the area was too residential for safe bow hunting.

“This cannot be happening,” she said after the Nov. 13 incident on her property. “This cannot be the solution to overpopulated deer. This cannot be the solution to inflict on people in a residential area because it’s not safe.”

Last year Huntington council members voted 5-0 to allow bow hunting on private property — with the owner’s consent — within town limits. Absent action by the village, the law applied to Asharoken.

Huntington’s second bowhunting season is now underway and the issue remains divisive in Asharoken and Eatons Neck, which is adjacent to the village but part of Huntington Town.

Gavel told village officials that the hunting has made her feel unsafe. She and other opponents have called for a hunting ban in Asharoken — a move the Village of Huntington Bay made in February. They have also sought a resident survey on the issue.

Last year opponents called on Asharoken officials to ban bow hunting within its boundaries, with organizers turning in emails of opposition from more than 20 households and roughly 50 individuals, organizer and Asharoken resident Nadine Dumser said.

Asharoken Mayor Greg Letica, who did not immediately return a call for comment, has said the emails did not represent enough opposition in a village of 650 residents for trustees to take action.

Letica has said that he would consider surveying residents on the issue if a more substantial portion of the population opposed bow hunting.

This year, Gavel said they are shifting their strategy from animal rights concerns to focus on public safety.

“When a deer is hit with that bow and arrow, it doesn’t die immediately,” said Gavel, whose land is between neighbors who allow hunting. “That tree stand is less than 100 feet from my property. Those deer are running on my property all the time.”

A change in village law would not affect Eatons Neck, so opponents in both communities are also reaching out to Huntington Town officials.

“My goal is to . . . determine if the hunters are in compliance with the current deer management legislation,” Councilwoman Tracey Edwards said Tuesday after a visit to Gavel’s property to hear from several concerned residents on the issue. “And . . . [to] work with residents on both sides of the issue to ensure we are doing all we can to protect the safety and security of all property owners.”

Huntington approved bow hunting after receiving many complaints about the rapidly growing deer population and the associated risks of tick-borne Lyme disease and car accidents caused when the animals run across roadways.

Supporters of hunting say it has shown early success, and that opponents are a minority in both communities.

“There has been a reduction in the number of deer that we see,” said Joe DeRosa, president of Eatons Harbor Corp., a homeowners’ association that lobbied for bow hunting in the town.

By the numbers: Bowhunting deer in Huntington Town

— 150: The distance in feet that bow hunters on private property must be set back from occupied buildings. The requirement decreased from 500 feet under a 2014 state Department of Environmental Conservation rule change.

— 253: The number of deer killed during Huntington’s first bowhunting season, which included 104 bucks.


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