Federal Wildlife Specialists to Cull Nearly 200 Deer on Long Island

by Amy Myers
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Wildlife specialists on Long Island have decided to hold a cull to help control the deer population in the area. According to authorities, they will cull up to 180 deer using shotguns with mounted scopes and night vision.

Federal officials will conduct the cull at night using stationary ground blinds and tools that are unavailable to recreational hunters. This includes thermal imaging technology and baiting. They have yet to disclose the exact date of the operation. However, they have announced that the cull will take place in the winter months when there is less foliage that will obstruct their view.

Of course, culling deer is not the most popular choice for managing local deer populations. But in circumstances like in Long Island, the explosion of these animals has started to take its toll on the rest of the environment.

Long Island Park Official Reports ‘Increased Damage’ to Habitats

Brian Nearing, a spokesman for the New York Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation, even stated that he and his staffers have started to notice “increased damage” to park habitats.

“Given the wide variety of native plants and grasses present, state parks present a constant food source for deer,” he told Newsday.

If the population continues to spiral out of control, these food sources could become depleted not just for the deer but also for other herbivorous species. This then causes a chain reaction on the rest of the food chain in the ecosystem.

Nearing also added that simply keeping these animals confined to fenced areas is not sufficient enough to mediate the problem. That’s why the cull will focus on several New York State Parks and other locations on Long Island east of New York City. Specifically, this includes Sunken Meadow and Nissequogue River state parks, Kings Park, Caleb Smith Preserve in Smithtown, Planting Fields in Oyster Bay, and at the Connetquot preserve in Oakdale, per Field & Stream.

Hunters and Animal Rights Activists Oppose Deer Cull on Long Island

This is far from Long Island’s first cull. In fact, the area has used this tactic for about 20 years. Within this time, culls have proven to be an efficient, low-cost method for managing deer populations in suburban areas. However, Long Island hunters and animal rights activists aren’t so supportive of the solution.

Local hunters prefer that wildlife officials open up the cull to them, rather than keeping the effort in-house. Many states out west actually follow this initiative, often holding a raffle for registered and appropriate hunters to take part in the cull. Meanwhile, animal rights activists support the population control efforts but oppose using euthanasia. Instead, these individuals would rather that wildlife authorities sterilize these deer, thus preventing the animals from spawning. However, unfortunately, this method is far more costly than a cull.

Furthermore, Cornell University professor of natural resources Bernd Blossey argued that sterilization tactics are not effective in areas where deer tend to migrate. Instead, culls are a much more direct and effective way to control the species population. Still, the advocacy group Long Island Orchestrating for Nature is planning to protest the state’s plans.

The meat from the culled deer will be donated to local food banks.

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