More than three-quarters of landowners in Southold Town with large properties town officials have identified as ideal for deer hunting would open their parcels to help cull the town's deer overpopulation, according to the results of a survey.
About 79 percent of property owners who responded to the survey, who have a combined total of more than 780 acres of land, said they are willing to open it for deer hunting, said Craig Jobes, the town’s part-time environmental analyst. The survey was sent to 900 property owners about two months ago, and there were more than 100 respondents, thus far, according to Scott Russell, Southold's town supervisor. Some respondents, he said, own multiple properties.
Added to about 300 acres that are already open, it equates to approximately 1,000 acres available for hunting, town officials said.
“Overall, it’s been a very overwhelming success,” Jobes said of the survey. “There have been very, very few responses that were a hard ‘No.’ ”
Jeff Standish, Southold’s public works director, said several of the properties that are open now to allow deer hunting had previously been off-limits.
“People are noticing that we need someone in there to take care of this problem," Standish said. "Some of these pieces of property have a lot of deer … that every time you drive by, you’d say ‘It would be great if we could be hunting there.’ ”
Getting the support of those properties, Standish added, would greatly help “in going there and getting these deer off these properties that we weren’t able to in the past.”
Town officials last fall originally discussed approaching owners of five- to 10-acre parcels in Cutchogue, East Marion and other areas in town to gauge their interest in opening the parcels to deer hunting.
Standish said that more seasonal employees would probably be needed to help manage the program, and that he would meet with the town’s Deer Management Task Force to discuss those details.
Jobes said several property owners had also called the town inquiring about how to obtain deer damage permits, which are issued through the state Department of Environmental Conservation and allow property owners to pursue, hunt, kill or capture antlerless deer causing damage on their property. Those interested in such permits have ranged from owners of potato farms and tree farms and private properties.