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Port Jefferson bans bows and arrows to hunt deer in village

The Port Jefferson Village Board voted unanimously on

The Port Jefferson Village Board voted unanimously on Dec. 21, 2015 to add arrows to a list of hunting instruments that are banned in the village. Credit: Jasmin Frankel

Port Jefferson officials have banned the shooting of arrows in the North Shore village, effectively barring archery as a way to hunt deer.

The village is the latest Long Island municipality to grapple with deer hunting in its communities. The nearby village of Belle Terre recently scrapped plans to allow bow hunting; Huntington Town this year passed a law allowing limited bowhunting to thin herds.

The five-member Port Jefferson Village Board voted unanimously on Dec. 21 to add arrows to a list of hunting instruments that are banned in the village, Mayor Margot J. Garant said. She said the law would not affect residents who enjoy archery as a hobby.

“The bow and arrow can be a very deadly weapon,” she said. “We just don’t want to condone that in the village.”

The village’s action was applauded by wildlife biologist D.J. Schubert of the Animal Welfare Institute in Washington, D.C. The institute opposes bow hunting and advocates nonlethal means of controlling deer herds, such as contraceptives and sterilization.

“From a cruelty perspective, bow hunting is kind of an archaic hunting method,” Schubert said.

Garant said some residents have reported seeing deer apparently wounded by arrows wandering the community. She said village code officers had discovered equipment indicating bow hunters had been in the area.

“We have an idea that this is occurring,” she said. “This code now gives us the ability to enforce.”

State law bans bow hunting within 150 feet of homes, schools and other structures. That effectively bars bow hunting in densely populated areas.

Garant said she was not sure how many areas of the village would qualify for bow hunting under those state rules.

Garant said residents concerned about deer entering their properties are allowed to erect fences.

“We encourage fencing, we encourage any alternative, but certainly not hunting,” Garant said. “That’s just not going to happen.”

Building fences up to 6 feet high, or sheds up to 144 square feet, will be easier because the village board also voted last week to allow residents add those items without building permits. Garant said that law was passed because village officials don’t want to “micromanage” residents.

The village board also voted to allow residents to build temporary ramps without first obtaining variances from the village’s front-yard and side-yard setback requirements.

Garant said temporary ramps, such as those intended to help disabled residents enter and exit their homes, must conform to village building codes. The new law recognizes that families don’t have much time to seek variances when a family member needs help, Garant said.

“We don’t want to put them under undue duress,” she said.

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