After they spent three days on a hunger strike outside of East Hampton Town Hall to protest the opening up of more town land to hunters, the last thing Bill and Ellen Crain wanted to see was a dead deer. But after they packed up their signs on January 7, the last day of their hunger strike, the first thing they saw when they pulled into a parking lot in Montauk was the carcass of a newly killed fawn bleeding in the bed of a pickup truck.
Mr. Crain was shocked, but after calling the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation to see if it was legal to kill a fawn and finding out that it was, he was outraged. “It’s time to develop compassion and empathy for our fellow living beings,” a weary-looking Mr. Crain told the East Hampton Town Board at its meeting on Friday, January 9. “All of you who have pets, we all know that each is an individual. Each wants to live. We wouldn’t allow hunting of pets. Why is this any different?”
Though Town Supervisor Bill McGintee responded with his oft-repeated comment that there are only so many local hunters, and the town is not expanding hunting, only the grounds available for hunting by residents, Mr. Crain wasn’t convinced. “We’ll see how many animals are killed,” he said, adding that the addition of a 2-acre parcel for waterfowl hunting on Gerard Drive ensured that many more birds will die this year than in the past. “These are incredible species that traveled thousands of miles,” he said.
Mr. Crain may have at least one friend on the Town Board as he seeks to curtail hunting and convince the town to consider contraception and other methods of controlling the deer population.
Town Board member Pat Mansir said that she feels “the time has come when we are not a hunting society,” though she remembers her parents warning her to stay out of the woods because of hunters when she was a child. With so many houses in close to hunting grounds and so many hikers taking advantage of the town’s woodland trails, she said that hunting needs to be re-examined here.
“I feed deer,” she said, adding that a doe often brings her babies to feed in her backyard.
Town Board member Brad Loewen was quick to jump on her comments. “You’re breaking state law. You’re simply not allowed to do that,” he said.
“Pat has no culpability. She was unaware,” said Mr. McGintee, as Ms. Mansir reacted in shock to the news.
“I have nothing but the highest regard for you and your wife,” Mr. McGintee told Mr. Crain. “This is something we will discuss in the