A group of Babylon Town residents are asking local and state officials to curb waterfowl hunting on the South Shore, saying it’s become dangerous to nearby homeowners.
A half dozen adults and a child spoke at Thursday’s town board meeting to make a plea for more restrictions and better enforcement of existing laws, which in the Lindenhurst area are a mishmash of state, county and town regulations. Both hunting and development in the area has increased in recent years, they said, pitting hunters against homeowners.
“I’m not against hunting,” Lindenhurst resident Robert Fantel told the board. “I do have a problem with irresponsibility where hunters do not follow proper etiquette.”
Fantel cited an Oct. 22 incident in which he and his wife, Darlene, said they witnessed two geese hunters in a boat just offshore firing in the direction of Shore Road Park where children were playing soccer.
State Department of Environmental Conservation officer Lt. Sean Reilly said the hunters stated they were 300 feet offshore and firing south as the geese flew north. State law allows for waterfowl hunting in the area as long as “there is not any dwelling, public structure, livestock or person within 500 feet of the shooter in the direction they are shooting.”
Reilly said the hunters are properly licensed and were hunting in season so the DEC will not press charges.
However, the hunters’ admitted actions violate a portion of town code, which prohibits discharging a firearm north of the east-west channel of the Great South Bay. Town Supervisor Rich Schaffer said the town will issue a summons to “make an example of these people.” The violation carries a penalty of a fine between $250 and $2,500 and/or imprisonment of up to 15 days.
Sophia Cortese, 9, told the board that she is not allowed to play outside during hunting season and worries about “Mrs. Quack and Mr. Quack” near her house.
“To hear gunshots all day long, the kind of stress that puts on you,” said Cortese’s mom, Sue Anne Konkle. “But on a bigger level, it’s the safety of our community that I’m worried about.”
Hunting groups in the area did not respond to requests for comment.
After years of resident pushback, the hunting rules are changing on Indian Island, which abuts Lindenhurst. Within the next few weeks, according to the Suffolk County’s department of parks, which oversees the island, they will be placing signs warning that hunting is restricted to the southern end of the island. In a statement, the department said this will reduce noise as the designated area is “more than 400 feet away from the closest home.” The statement noted that the island “has been hunted for nearly 100 years, with no reports of injury.”
Schaffer said the town will work with the DEC to get the word out to hunters and residents on regulations and etiquette.
Reilly said there are no signs in the town with hunting regulations but the DEC holds events and talks to sportsman groups. He said the DEC has issued about 56 tickets in the region in the past three years and “less than five tickets" were for “hunting too close to dwellings."
Hunting season in the area
Dates when the state permits waterfowl hunting in the western Long Island region for 2018-2019:
Ducks, Coots, Mergansers: Nov. 22 to Nov. 23, Dec. 1 to Jan. 27
Snow Geese: Nov. 22 to March 8
Brant: Nov. 22 to Nov. 23, Dec. 1 to Jan. 27
Canada goose: Oct. 13 to Oct. 28, Nov. 22 to Nov. 23, Dec. 1 to Feb. 25
Youth Days: Nov. 10 to Nov. 11
Shooting Hours: One-half hour before sunrise to sunset
Source: New York State Department of Environmental Conservation