Reprieve for Deer Is Not an Answer

The failure of the Department of Environmental Conservation to provide leadership in this matter should raise significant questions among state lawmakers about the agency’s function and capabilities

    The apparent collapse here of planned participation in a deer reduction plan backed by the Long Island Farm Bureau should not go unremarked.

    As we have noted, the failure of the Department of Environmental Conservation to provide leadership in this matter should raise significant questions among state lawmakers about the agency’s function and capabilities. The local glitch, to which East Hampton Village and Town’s pulling out of the cull was attributed, that an environmental impact study was required before signing on, is an embarrassment to all involved.

    Those opposed to the killing of deer by professional sharpshooters supervised by the United States Department of Agriculture have said that they view the delay as a victory. Maybe. We suspect it is not a capitulation to vocal pressure and take the word of Town Supervisor Larry Cantwell, who had been on record in favor of the cull, and others that an environmental impact statement could not be completed in time for the program to begin next month. A large-scale hunt like this would by definition affect the environment; knowing in advance just what that effect would be, at least to the extent possible, is obviously necessary.

    Looking ahead, we expect deer on roadsides and lawns to increase as proper woodland habitat is either fenced off or further denuded by their hungry foraging. Collisions between deer and vehicles will continue at the current unacceptable rate, if not grow. And, even if deer are not alone in carrying ticks, more people will be diagnosed with Lyme disease and other ailments, along with a potentially fatal allergy to red meat caused by the bite of the lone star tick.

    Leaders here, at D.E.C. headquarters, and at Suffolk County Vector Control must do more to bring the deer population into balance with the land’s ability to support it. As of now, no viable alternative to a professional, precise hunt has been put forward. East Hampton should begin work on the required study as soon as practical.