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Charges against father, son hunters dismissed

The pair no longer face charges of discharging weapons in Head of the Harbor when they hunted deer with bows in the village last fall.

A Head of the Harbor judge dismisses charges

A Head of the Harbor judge dismisses charges against two hunters. Photo Credit: Ed Betz

Head of the Harbor’s village justice dismissed charges against a father and son who had been accused of using bows to hunt deer last fall, violating a rarely invoked local ordinance banning discharge of weapons in the village, the men’s lawyer said.

“We were pleasantly surprised by this early dismissal,” said the lawyer, Hauppauge-based John Armentano, representing Darrell Anderson and Maxwell Anderson. According to records, Darrell Anderson is 55 and Maxwell Anderson is 21; both live in Lindenhurst.

The Andersons showed a reporter photographs of Jan. 10 letters from the court notifying them of the dismissal, and Armentano verified those documents.

Why the village charges were dismissed was not clear. Village Justice Ellen Fishkin could not be reached, and village prosecutor John Zollo did not respond to requests for comment. Village Mayor Douglas Dahlgard said he could not comment on a court matter.  

DEC officials said the Andersons shot two deer. Maxwell Anderson paid a New York State Department of Environmental Conservation fine for failure to carry his hunting license and Darrell Anderson paid a DEC fine for failure to tag deer as required, Armentano said.

Armentano, who is a member of the hunting advocacy group Hunters for Deer and worked pro bono on the Andersons’ cases, said village ordinances in some instances could be pre-empted by New York State law that makes regulating hunting the responsibility of the DEC.

The agency asserted that authority in a 2018 letter to the Belle Terre village attorney and in a January 2019 amicus memorandum to an Ithaca judge, Armentano said.

A number of Long Island villages and towns, including Smithtown, have laws in place that restrict hunting. A Hunters for Deer lawyer, Christian Killoran, lost a suit last year to overturn the town law and has filed an appeal.

“The village laws are susceptible to a pre-emption challenge,” Armentano said. “I do feel there is some governmental overreach in municipalities on Long Island on a known deer problem.”

Head of the Harbor officials have said that a large and growing deer population in and around the village is a nuisance and threat to safety, but officials say a significant portion of village residents oppose hunting, the DEC’s preferred method of population control. Residents and officials hope that a fertility control research project now underway will slow population growth.

DEC representatives did not immediately comment.

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