Where can you see an epidemic grow right out in the open? In the Town of East Hampton, according to the voiceover on an episode of "Destination Whitetail" airing on Wednesday at 8:30 and 11:30 p.m. on the Sportsman Channel.
Former East Hampton Town Supervisor Bill Wilkinson, former Councilman Dominick Stanzione, and former Police Chief Ed Ecker, as well as Ed Harrison, a Montauk resident and sportsman, are featured in "The Hampton's [sic] Hurdle to Hunting". While emphasizing the South Fork's status as a "playground of the rich and famous," as the host Brittney Glaze puts it, the episode, filmed last fall, examines town officials' deliberations as they sought a means to reduce the deer population.
Officials in the town and village of East Hampton endeavored to institute a deer cull using United States Department of Agriculture sharpshooters last winter, an effort that drew both strong support from some and angry protests from animal-rights activists and hunters, the latter group seeking participation and decrying the planned use of professionals.
In January, the plan was scuttled when it was determined that a state-required environmental impact study could not be completed in time. Both the town and village have allocated money for deer management in their present budgets, the latter earmarking $30,000 toward a sterilization program that may occur in the fall.
Scenes of the town, particularly Montauk, abound in "The Hampton's Hurdle to Hunting." "Lymes disease, auto accidents, and over-browsing are all too common," Ms. Glaze says. "Little is being done to control the population."
"Probably 60 percent of Montauk residents have Lyme disease in some form," Mr. Wilkinson says in the program. "The deer overpopulation in East Hampton has reached emergency proportions," Mr. Stanzione says, asserting that public health, the economic impact on agriculture, and deer-vehicle collisions necessitate action. Mr. Ecker says that an average of 125 to 150 collisions occur annually.
However, Mr. Stanzione says, "I've got a split constituency. On one side, I've got people who don't want to have anything to do with shooting or killing deer, and on the other local hunters who want to be the exclusive partners with the town in helping us reduce the deer herd. . . . I've got to find a way to solve and reduce the deer herd as soon as possible for our community."
Mr. Stanzione also presents as an option the use of professional sharpshooters to accomplish a 50-percent reduction in a population he puts at between 6,000 and 10,000. He also suggests a longer hunting season and expansion of land available to hunters.