Deer graze in Southold on Monday.

Deer graze in Southold on Monday. Credit: Randee Daddona

A cross-section of East End lawmakers is expressing support for a proposed state law to create a pilot deer-reduction program in Southold by expanding weapons use and allowing newly licensed “qualified professionals” to shoot deer from vehicles using sound-suppressing firearms.

The proposed legislation, introduced by Assemb. Jodi Giglio (R-Riverhead) would allow firearms to be used during the regular bowhunting deer season that starts Oct. 1 and runs through Jan. 31. At present, regularly licensed hunters can ++use firearms only during a special late-firearms season in January.

The proposed law, which the lawmakers said is needed to contain an exploding deer population, also would create new rules for the use of crossbows, which are higher velocity than standard bows and currently restricted in Suffolk for deer hunting.

A town official didn't immediately return a call seeking comment. However, a key Democratic state lawmaker expressed reservations about the bill, but said he would "continue to work with interested stakeholders to adaptively manage deer populations and comply with the laws and regulations in place."

Hunters annually take more than 3,000 deer in Suffolk.

Language in the bill proposes it be used to reset deer-hunting regulations statewide. The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation has a program for managing the deer population through 2030. The DEC declined to comment on the pending legislation. 

Giglio, in a statement, called the growing deer population "a real crisis of health and safety" and said her program could "set an example for how other municipalities throughout New York state can herd their deer populations and keep both these animals and residents safe." 

Assemb. Fred Thiele Jr. (I-Sag Harbor), State Sen. Anthony Palumbo (R-New Suffolk) and Suffolk Legis. Al Krupski (D-Cutchogue) were among lawmakers who expressed support for the bill. 

John Armentano, an attorney and member of the Peconic River Sportsman's Club, said that while hunters generally don't support the use of professional sharpshooters to cull deer, he said he expects interest by local hunters to qualify for culling permits, if available. 

"I believe there will be strong support for this proposed law in the recreational hunting community, if it will increase hunting access to all Long Island hunters," he said. 

The bill would create new incentives for hunters to be compensated for the deer they kill and include provisions to allow 12- and 13-year-olds to hunt with firearms from tree stands (with expert supervision).

The bill also would give the state DEC the authority to set new rules for the "qualified professionals" who get special permits to hunt, including the ability use bait to lure deer within 300 feet of a road, to shoot deer from vehicles, and to shoot guns within 500 feet from a dwelling or structure. Guns fitted with sound-suppression devices also could be authorized for the special permit holders.

Giglio's bill was introduced in May and has a companion Senate version, but has not moved out of a state legislative committee.

Assemb. Steve Englebright (D-Setauket), who chairs the Environmental Conservation committee that must approve the bill, said it "might be overreaching" by expanding firearms use without including strong safety provisions. 

"We don't want to bring firearms in proximity to densely populated neighborhoods," he said. "I'm aware the deer are a real problem. It's not a new problem."

Englebright also took issue with the notion of potentially arming 12- and 13-year-olds for the cull. "That's certainly a red flag for me," he said.

Englebright noted Southold was one East End town that approved the use of federal sharpshooters in 2014 to cull its deer herd. 

"It would be very useful to have an objective evaluation of why that did not work, rather than just put another policy out there to throw things at a wall to see what sticks," Englebright said. 

Southold Town board member Greg Doroski, in a statement, said, “We have a world-class deer management program in Southold Town, but it’s just not enough to get the herd under control.”

A cross-section of East End lawmakers is expressing support for a proposed state law to create a pilot deer-reduction program in Southold by expanding weapons use and allowing newly licensed “qualified professionals” to shoot deer from vehicles using sound-suppressing firearms.

The proposed legislation, introduced by Assemb. Jodi Giglio (R-Riverhead) would allow firearms to be used during the regular bowhunting deer season that starts Oct. 1 and runs through Jan. 31. At present, regularly licensed hunters can ++use firearms only during a special late-firearms season in January.

The proposed law, which the lawmakers said is needed to contain an exploding deer population, also would create new rules for the use of crossbows, which are higher velocity than standard bows and currently restricted in Suffolk for deer hunting.

A town official didn't immediately return a call seeking comment. However, a key Democratic state lawmaker expressed reservations about the bill, but said he would "continue to work with interested stakeholders to adaptively manage deer populations and comply with the laws and regulations in place."

Hunters annually take more than 3,000 deer in Suffolk.

Language in the bill proposes it be used to reset deer-hunting regulations statewide. The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation has a program for managing the deer population through 2030. The DEC declined to comment on the pending legislation. 

Giglio, in a statement, called the growing deer population "a real crisis of health and safety" and said her program could "set an example for how other municipalities throughout New York state can herd their deer populations and keep both these animals and residents safe." 

Assemb. Fred Thiele Jr. (I-Sag Harbor), State Sen. Anthony Palumbo (R-New Suffolk) and Suffolk Legis. Al Krupski (D-Cutchogue) were among lawmakers who expressed support for the bill. 

John Armentano, an attorney and member of the Peconic River Sportsman's Club, said that while hunters generally don't support the use of professional sharpshooters to cull deer, he said he expects interest by local hunters to qualify for culling permits, if available. 

"I believe there will be strong support for this proposed law in the recreational hunting community, if it will increase hunting access to all Long Island hunters," he said. 

The bill would create new incentives for hunters to be compensated for the deer they kill and include provisions to allow 12- and 13-year-olds to hunt with firearms from tree stands (with expert supervision).

The bill also would give the state DEC the authority to set new rules for the "qualified professionals" who get special permits to hunt, including the ability use bait to lure deer within 300 feet of a road, to shoot deer from vehicles, and to shoot guns within 500 feet from a dwelling or structure. Guns fitted with sound-suppression devices also could be authorized for the special permit holders.

Giglio's bill was introduced in May and has a companion Senate version, but has not moved out of a state legislative committee.

Assemb. Steve Englebright (D-Setauket), who chairs the Environmental Conservation committee that must approve the bill, said it "might be overreaching" by expanding firearms use without including strong safety provisions. 

"We don't want to bring firearms in proximity to densely populated neighborhoods," he said. "I'm aware the deer are a real problem. It's not a new problem."

Englebright also took issue with the notion of potentially arming 12- and 13-year-olds for the cull. "That's certainly a red flag for me," he said.

Englebright noted Southold was one East End town that approved the use of federal sharpshooters in 2014 to cull its deer herd. 

"It would be very useful to have an objective evaluation of why that did not work, rather than just put another policy out there to throw things at a wall to see what sticks," Englebright said. 

Southold Town board member Greg Doroski, in a statement, said, “We have a world-class deer management program in Southold Town, but it’s just not enough to get the herd under control.”

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