Village Board Mulls the Cull

      Although plans for a deer cull in East Hampton Town and Village were effectively abandoned at the end of last month, it was not until Friday that the village board formally rescinded the resolution it had adopted in December authorizing participation in the program.

       The planned cull, which was promoted by the Long Island Farm Bureau with the assistance of the Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services Division, drew furious opposition and a well-attended protest in the village on Jan. 18. East Hampton Town officials called off its participation on Jan. 31, saying it was not possible to complete an environmental impact statement in time for a late-winter cull.

       Some of the plan’s most vocal opponents were on hand Friday to praise Mayor Paul F. Rickenbach Jr. and the board. “I know that anytime a public official has to alter a position, whatever the reasons, it takes a degree of mature flexibility,” Bill Crain, president of the East Hampton Group for Wildlife, told the board. He asked that the board, in its future deliberations about deer, “be as thoughtful, get as much data, and be as empathetic and compassionate as possible.”

       Ron Delsener, a concert promoter and animal-rights activist who has a house in East Hampton, thanked the board for rescinding the resolution. “It took a lot of courage,” he said. Mr. Delsener offered the board materials he had compiled, including studies of immunocontraception implemented on Fire Island and on Fripp Island in South Carolina. “It’s pretty darn easy, and it’s a win for everybody,” he said of the programs.

       Mayor Rickenbach told Mr. Crain and Mr. Delsener that they and “others who are certainly sensitive to this and very interested in this dilemma” would be included in any future consideration of a lethal way to reduce the deer population. But, he warned, “The problem hasn’t gone away,” and reiterated previous statements calling deer “a public health situation” and “public nuisance.”

       Kathleen Cunningham, speaking on behalf of the Village Preservation Society, agreed with Mr. Delsener that the board now had an opportunity for to pursue a sterilization program. “The sterilization program is one hour out of the animal’s life,” she said. “You handle them once, done. Ten years, they live out their natural lives, no booster shots are required.”

       In other action, the board put public hearings on two proposed laws on the agenda of its March 21 meeting. If adopted, the laws would tighten restrictions on construction and the commercial use of gas and diesel-powered landscaping equipment, as well as on parking in the Reutershan, Barns/Schenck, and Chase Bank parking lots. The board had debated both proposals at its Feb. 6 work session.

       Having fielded complaints about noise and pollution from gas-powered leaf blowers and hedge trimmers, several board members had offered their own criticism at that meeting. While in favor of greater restrictions, though, Richard Lawler, one of the trustees, expressed concern that a ban on gas-powered equipment might have the unintended consequence of putting small landscapers out of business.

       The board reached a consensus at the work session, proposing that commercial use be allowed from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturdays from May 1 through Nov. 30. The law now allows commercial equipment to be used between 7 a.m. and 8 p.m. on weekdays and 8 a.m. and 3 p.m. on Saturdays from May 1 through Nov. 30.

       The parking lots in question now restrict parking to two hours between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. from May 1 though Nov. 30. Initial proposals to lengthen the time the restriction would be in effect from March or April through December have now given way to a two-hour limit year round.