Protesters took to East Hampton Village on Saturday afternoon to voice their opposition to an deer cull planned by several municipalities, with the help of the Long Island Farm Bureau.
As people walked down the street from the Hook Mill green to Herrick Park on Newtown Lane, their signs—from “It is man’s fault” to “Birth control not guns” and “Kill kill kill is not the answer”—got mixed reactions from passersby.
One man stood watching the parade on Newtown Lane and responded against the protest. “Save the deer, kill the people!” he said.
Just a few feet away in front of Babette’s, the protesters were greeted with applause.
Once gathered at Herrick Park, Bill Crain, the president of the East Hampton Group for Wildlife, led the group in a series of chants. “You’re standing as protectors of life,” he said. “Hey, hey, ho, ho, these deer killers got to go.”
Wendy Chamberlain, an animal advocate and rally organizer, told the crowd that the plan to cull deer with U.S. Department of Agriculture sharpshooters must be stopped. “The USDA should be called the Wildlife Extermination Service,” she said. “They’re a bad group of people. The fact that politicians have invited them … is inexcusable.”
Brian Conway of Hunters for Deer said New York State and local municipalities are not using common sense. He said the deer have adapted to where hunters are allowed to hunt, so they have seen fewer every year. He said that hunters can be just as successful as USDA sharpshooters if given better access.
Lisa Catalano, an advocate from Nassau County, said the planned cull won’t help at all. “This is the biggest bunch of B.S.,” she said. “Why spend hundreds of thousands of dollars?”
Ruth Vered of the Vered Art Gallery, who said she said she had been attacked by deer in the past, joined the crowd yelling, “Save the people!” and “F— the deer!”
Emotional protesters immediately argued back.
“So we should kill opossum, raccoons, and then deer?” asked April Carone of Hampton Bays. “All carry ticks.”
After Ms. Vered was pulled away from protesters, Ms. Carone said she came to defend wildlife, which she literally got to do during that exchange.
“We need to share all of God’s creatures,” she said. “This goes back to what we did to the Native Americans. We need to protest for those without a voice.”
Ms. Chamberlain broke the news that the animal advocates from Long Island Orchestrating For Nature (LION), the Wildlife Preservation Coalition of Eastern Long Island, and the East Hampton Group for Wildlife have hired an environmental firm from upstate, Young/Sommer LLC, to represent them in their lawsuit against any and all municipalities that sign on to the Farm Bureau’s cull program. The advocates are also suing the USDA and the State DEC, she said.
East Hampton Village and Sagaponack Village are among the East End municipalities that are considering taking part in the cull.
“The cull is like 16th century thinking, and this is the 21st century,” she said, adding that the DEC is discussing a cull of mute swans, too. “These types of wildlife problems are only going to get worse unless we decide to manage our own population and not choose the most primitive form of wildlife management. It is criminally insane to do something like that. We have to rely on scientists not on psychopaths.”