Forests 'Decimated' by Deer, Management Forum Thursday

Durell Godfey

Woodlands in the Town of East Hampton have been "decimated" by foraging deer, according to a representative of the U.S. Forest Service who will present his findings at a forum hosted by the Village Preservation Society of East Hampton on Thursday at 5:30 p.m. The group will meet at the Emergency Services Building at 1 Cedar Street in East Hampton. The meeting will be open to the public.

Kathleen Cunningham, the executive director of the society, quoted Thomas Rawinski when she told the East Hampton Village Board last Thursday that the Forest Service official had surveyed woodlands in the town for a report he presented to them in June. Ms. Cunningham told the board that the deer population in East Hampton, according to Mr. Rawinski, "is having a profound impact on our old-growth trees, oak saplings, and a variety of other flora and fauna that depend on that ecosystem to survive. . . . His term was our forests are 'decimated.' "

Mr. Rawinski "opened my eyes to the impact deer are having on old-growth trees," Ms. Cunningham said last week. "Down the road, we're going be in some big trouble in these forest areas, we're going to have to restore them. . . . Forests are important in supporting a variety of other flora and fauna, a whole host of things that are going to be seriously negatively impacted."

In June, the Village Preservation Society launched its Spay-a-Doe fund-raising program, aimed at broadening the scope of the village's deer-management plans. The village allocated $30,000 to deer management for the fiscal year that started on Friday, a figure preservation society officials have called "woefully insufficient." The group has stated that the cost of sterilizing a doe is approximately $1,000, and it plans to raise $100,000 for a sterilization program it hopes will be enacted, in conjunction with a cull, in the fall.

"We haven't met our goal yet but are doing really well," Ms. Cunningham said.

Anthony DeNicola, founder and president of White Buffalo, a nonprofit organization that works to preserve native species and ecosystems, will also attend the meeting. White Buffalo, Ms. Cunningham said, would be hired to conduct the spaying program.


Hazel Kahan talks with Tom Rawinski tonight (Wednesday) at 7:30PM on WPKN Radio 89.5FM and streaming on