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Huntington votes to allow bow hunting in Asharoken and Eatons Neck; Belle Terre votes against it

White-tailed deer intrude on the property of homes

White-tailed deer intrude on the property of homes in Suffolk on Nov. 17, 2013. Credit: Randee Daddona

The Huntington Town Board voted unanimously Wednesday to allow bowhunting for deer in Asharoken and Eatons Neck, where residents say overpopulation has made the animals aggressive and a nuisance.

"The safety issue, the health issue, have been predominant concerns of the residents," said Joe DeRosa, president of Eatons Harbor Corp., a homeowners' association that has pushed for the bowhunting legislation.

Town Supervisor Frank Petrone has said the resolution was not intended as a "wholesale culling," but a way for residents of these North Shore communities to protect themselves and their property.

Bowhunting would only be allowed during hunting season, which runs from Oct. 1 to Jan. 31, 2016, in Suffolk County. It would also require shooters to get hunting and bowhunting licenses from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.

Meanwhile, the Belle Terre Village Board on Tuesday rejected a plan that would have allowed bow hunters to thin a deer herd there that has drawn complaints from residents. The board voted unanimously not to adopt a code amendment that would have allowed bow hunting in the village during deer-hunting season. The board voted after many residents said they opposed the measure.

After reviewing maps showing some houses would be located near legal hunting areas in the North Shore village, trustees decided "it would be ridiculous to consider the hunting," Belle Terre Village Clerk Joanne Raso said Thursday. State law requires hunting to take place at least 150 feet from the nearest homes.

In Huntington, the board also voted Wednesday to hold a public hearing Oct. 6 on a resolution that would allow for nonlethal methods to control the deer population. That proposal, sponsored by Councilwoman Tracey Edwards, would allow: installation of deer fencing; planting of non-deer-friendly vegetation; pepper-based spray repellent on foliage; motion-detector lights and sprinklers, as well as the display of "coyote effigies." The proposal would also prohibit people from feeding deer. Edwards' proposal does not include any provisions for sterilizing deer as a means of controlling the population.

In Asharoken and Eatons Neck, residents have been divided over how to deal with the prevalence of deer in recent years. Deer have been the cause of car crashes in the area, and residents have reported finding a dozen of the animals in their yards at one time. The risk of Lyme disease, transmitted through ticks found on deer, has been another factor for proponents of bowhunting.

In Belle Terre, many of the approximately 100 residents at the meeting spoke against allowing bow hunting, said village resident Jaime Ivory.

Ivory said village officials did not give residents adequate advance notice of the plan and had not counted the number of deer.

"It's too dangerous," Ivory said of hunting. "We have children here who play."

She said residents may form a committee to seek means "to control the deer population in a more humane way." She said she enjoys deer, though they have eaten her hydrangeas. "I can't kill an animal, personally, over a flower," Ivory said.

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