Sagaponack Village is not ponying up $15,000 it allotted to put toward the deer cull program, according to Rhodi Winchell, the village’s clerk and treasurer.
In November, the Village Board approved spending up to $15,000 to pay for their part in the program. But according to Ms. Winchell, that money is contingent upon whether East Hampton, but especially the Town of Southampton, were to go forward with the plan. Now that East Hampton is out, and Southampton Town hasn’t made a move toward the cull, Sagaponack is not moving forward either.
“Having said that, this does not mean individual property owners can’t get a license from the DEC to allow hunting on their property,” she said. “Whether the village ponies up or not is still up to the property owners to get licenses.”
The Town of East Hampton will not participate in the cull program either this year, according to a press release from Town Supervisor Larry Cantwell and the town’s Deer Management Liaison and Councilman Fred Overton.
The officials cited four reasons why this year is a no-go, including ongoing litigation challenging the Town’s deer plan as well as the Farm Bureau’s plan.
Additionally, officials have been advised that an environmental impact statement under SEQRA guidelines may be needed before any agreement can be made to go forward. Lastly, the response from private property owners asking to participate in the Farm Bureau’s deer cull has been minimal, according to the town.
The Town hasn’t completely shut its door to the cull program, however.
“If participation is open next year and a more complete environmental analysis is completed, the town can reconsider,” the officials said in the release. “In the meantime, we recommend the town continue implementing the Town Deer Management Plan.”
Hunting as a primary method of reducing and managing the overall deer population is something the Town Board continues to support, as well.
Education is a key step in the meantime too, the officials said.
“Toward this end, the town should improve its monitoring of the deer population and related environmental damage,” they said. “It should compile data on deer vs. vehicle accidents and location of deer over time, as well as the hunting of the animals.”
The Village’s announcement comes one day after the Suffolk County Supreme Court Judge Andrew Tarantino issued a temporary restraining order, barring the Town of East Hampton from completing and implementing a contract with the Long Island Farm Bureau and the U.S. Department of Agriculture for culling deer until February 10, when Town and Village attorneys return to court to discuss the issues in further detail, according to Bill Crain, the director of the East Hampton Group for Wildlife.
Mr. Crain as well as the Evelyn Alexander Wildlife Rescue Center of the Hamptons and area residents filed a lawsuit with their representation, Devereaux and Baumgarten, against the Village and Town on December 18, asking for the temporary restraining order. It was granted on Thursday.
When Mr. Crain was informed by a Press reporter that the Village had actually withdrawn its participation from the program, he was near to tears.
“That’s tremendous news that they pulled out,” he said. “I wish I could tell all the deer. I may go out tell them anyway.”
He said he suspects that the town might pull out given the restraining order and the news of the Village leaving the plan.
He said that the people that turned out at the protest in support of the deer, opposing the cull, and those that planned it, made him proud.
“It was an outpouring from all the town and it was very inspiring for the protection of the deer,” he said. “Many people renewed their faith in human nature. There are humans who have feelings for other species.”
Mayor Rickenbach said on Friday that the restraining order didn’t have to do with the Village Board’s decision to pull out of the cull program, but that it is just “another nail in the coffin.”
“You’ve got to have the full cooperation of all interested parties—I am saddened,” he said. “We went into this with the hope that it would provide a beneficial result, but based on recent events I think the emotional attachment to it precluded the Village from acting in its right of self-determination with regard to this public health issue.”
East Hampton Village announced on Friday that it plans to withdraw its participation in a deer culling program spearheaded by the Long Island Farm Bureau and the United States Department of Agriculture.
“It was the intent and desire of the village to address wildlife management issues with a regional approach,” a statement from Mayor Paul F. Rickenbach Jr. said, “but as surrounding municipalities have not committed to participate, it no longer seems a project the village can tackle on its own.”