Southold will spend $25,000 to cull the deer population later this month, despite all other Eastern Long Island towns and villages backing out of the once ambitious plan.
The Southold Town Board unanimously voted Tuesday night to allocate the money and approve an environmental report clearing the crop-protecting cull, despite angry comments from hunters that they could reduce the deer population for free and residents who called the plan extreme.
"Southold's town board put an awful lot of time and thought into the issue for the last eight years," Town Supervisor Scott Russell said Wednesday. Russell said he could not comment more because of anticipated litigation.
Opponents who successfully sued East Hampton Village and East Hampton Town promised to sue and seek a temporary restraining order to block the cull in Southold.
Wendy Chamberlin of Bridgehampton, a member of the East End Wildlife Preservation Coalition, called the plan inhumane. She said having hunters observe the deer population and, in some cases, cull the deer, would be more rational.
"These are people who care about the deer and care about neighborhoods," she said.
The Long Island Farm Bureau is entering into a contract with the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Wildlife Services, though plans for what officials said would have been the largest federal hunt in New York history have shrunk significantly.
Originally this summer, Wildlife Services estimated it could cull 2,000 to 3,000 deer over 40 nights using federal agents in trucks and in tree stands over bait. But the estimate was whittled down to 1,000 deer, before the South Fork governments pulled out after being sued.
The Farm Bureau, the lead contracting agency with USDA, has a $250,000 state grant, but Russell said Tuesday night he doesn't expect the full amount to be used in Southold. He said property owners, whom he did not identify, have already signed on to allow the sharpshooters onto their property.
Farm Bureau executive director Joe Gergela declined to comment Wednesday.