The town board is poised to take steps to make the process easier for local deer hunters.
A public hearing has been scheduled for May 28 at noon on a local law to waive the requirement for New York State Department of Environmental Conservation deer hunting permits on the town level.
The DEC, Southold Town Supervisor Scott Russell said, is aiming to waive the state requirement that town clerks issue the deer hunting permits.
The town board has “determined that it would be in the best interest of the Town of Southold to reduce the regulatory burden placed on town departments by exercising the option of waiving the requirement that hunters obtain a New York State DEC permit from the town clerk,” a resolution announcing the public hearing read.
At Tuesday’s work session, members of the town’s deer management task force came before the town board to discuss accomplishments over the past year, including working hard to get the setback changed from 500 to 150 feet for vertical bows and extending the season to January 31 for bowhunters, said Dave Dominy.
In addition, Dominy said, 97 acres were added to the town’s available hunting property, bringing the total to over 600 acres.
Last year, 255 deer were harvested and reported through the town’s department of public works, Dominy said; just 10 were reported in 2015 due to the tough winter and snow.
Over 30,000 lbs. of venison has been donated to area food banks and homeless shelters since 2010.
The town’s deer management program, said Jeff Standish, Southold’s director of public works, serves as a model for other areas, including Staten Island, where the deer issue is of concern.
“It’s a growing problem,” Russell said. The problem with incentivizing the program by offering payment on a deer to deer basis for hunters, Russell said, is that “it’s tantamount to selling venison. If we were to pay people we couldn’t donate to food pantries.”
Hunting is expensive, Russell added, with one arrow costing up to $30.
As for abolishing the deer hunting permit on the town level, Russell said while even though currently the town receives $1 for each permit, it’s advantageous to facilitate the process for hunters, who now have to sometimes take days off from work to apply.