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Aug 20, 2019 4:52 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

East Hampton Rejects One-Day Weekend Hunting Ban

Zelda Penzel asked the Town Board to ban hunting on town lands for one weekend day each week.
Aug 20, 2019 5:21 PM

The majority of the members of the East Hampton Town Board said they do not support taking action to impose a ban on all hunting on one weekend day each week during hunting seasons, as a group of animal rights activists and hiking enthusiasts has asked board members to do.

The four board members who declined to press for the hunting ban cited the need to encourage thinning the deer population, and the history of hunting as a cultural tradition in the region, as the reasons.

“We pride ourselves on being a rural community, at least as close to rural as we can be, and part of being rural is being able to hunt,” Councilwoman Sylvia Overby said during Tuesday’s discussion of the matter at Town Hall. “It’s part of what has defined us. Banning hunting gets a step closer to urbanization.”

Other board members nodded to a deer population that has swelled because of a lack of natural predators and an abundance of food, in combination with a shrinking habitat that has forced them into more confined areas, where some studies show they have harmed the ecosystem by over-grazing understory and forcing farmers to erect unsightly deer fencing around their crops.

“I understand people’s feelings about these animals — they are part of nature, they have a place,” Supervisor Peter Van Scoyoc said. “I don’t think we can ignore our responsibility for having eliminated natural predators.”

Councilman David Lys said he worried that the town banning hunting on its lands could cause safety issues as hikers using town lands unwittingly crossed onto adjacent county or state lands where hunting was allowed.

The hunting opponents who have been lobbying the Town Board for the ban since early this year said they sought greater public safety and access to town-owned woodlands and quietude on weekend mornings.

Hiking enthusiasts said they are afraid to walk woodland trails on many town lands during the fall and winter for fear of being accidentally shot by a hunter. Several supporters of the weekend restriction said they simply wanted the peace and quiet from the sound of shotguns on fall mornings.

The more devout anti-hunting activists in the group pleaded for a respite for the sake of the game animals.

“We only ask that one day be free of hunting and free from the bloodshed and slaughter of deer and other animals,” Zelda Penzel said on Tuesday, “free from the sight of wounded and dying animals and free from the risk of being wounded or killed by stray bullets.”

Just one board member, Jeff Bragman, said he would be in support of codifying a limitation that barred hunting of animals on any town lands on one day of each weekend.

“I do have some empathy for people who say they like to walk on trails near their house or neighborhood — I live near Barcelona, and there’s a lot of hunting in Barcelona, and I don’t go to Barcelona,” Mr. Bragman said. “Hunting is a little different than hiking … in that it poses some danger, and poses noise and risk. There is not an equivalence.”

Hunters had tried to counter the appeals for an added weekly restriction by saying that doing so would rob some of their ability to hunt because, for many, Saturday or Sunday were the only days they are free to get into the field. They also argued that hunting access is already restricted to hunting seasons, and that all town lands are completely free from any concerns about hunting for most of the year.

“Sportsmen are workingmen — they are not sitting in this audience, because they are at work,” said Hugh Miles, a hunter who lives in Springs, pointing to the audience at Tuesday morning’s Town Board work session. “This is smoke and mirrors put up to stop deer hunting.”

Deer hunting season on the South Fork runs from October 1 to January 31 for those using bow-and-arrow only. Shotguns may be used for deer hunting only in January. Waterfowl hunting seasons start in late October and run to the end of January. Upland hunting for some small game like rabbits and squirrels runs into February.

Mr. Van Scoyoc noted that people who can hunt deer with only a gun and can hunt only on weekends would see the number of days they had available to them to hunt chopped down from just six or eight, depending on how the weekends fall in January, to only three or four. He also noted that a large number of town properties are not open to hunting at any time.

Carol Buda, one of the first proponents of the weekly hunting closure, said that the town should make a broader map showing all of the public lands on which hunting is allowed and on which hunting is not allowed. Mr. Van Scoyoc concurred and said the town would create one.

Mr. Lys also pointed out that the noise issues associated with hunting are caused primarily by waterfowl hunting, which is mostly done in floating blinds or boats in state or East Hampton Town Trustees waters and would not be affected by any Town Board-imposed limitations.

“I appreciate the noise concerns, but I also know it’s difficult to walk on any town preserve at any time without being interrupted by the noise of leaf blowers, skill saws, helicopters,” Mr. Van Scoyoc said. “All these are symptomatic of human impacts on life.”

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You can just tell by the picture that she wants to BAN just about everything.
By Babyboo (293), Hampton Bays on Aug 21, 19 1:14 PM
CAVE people. Citizens Against Virtually Everything. They are all over the place out here.
By localEH (427), East Hampton on Aug 21, 19 6:01 PM
2 members liked this comment
the pic says it all
By logic (3), east hampton on Aug 21, 19 5:40 PM
Kudos to the EHTB. There has NEVER been a second party incident involving bowhunting on Long Island. I would like to see East Hampton start allowing non-residents to hunt their precious town owned properties. Hunters pay far more toward conservation than any anti-hunting organization. The likes of PETA, spend more money on advertisements and billboards to attract new donors, then they contribute toward wildlife and habitat conservation.
By Michael Tessitore (76), East Quogue, New York on Aug 21, 19 6:30 PM
1 member liked this comment
IF all the anti hunters were vegetarians, there would be some merit to their "ask". Those who buy and eat factory farmed animals have no right to ask for a ban on hunting. There is far more pain and suffering inflicted on animals who endure the "farm" conditions across American EVERY SINGLE DAY than any wild animal would ever face, even the ones who are "harvested" for food.
By dklughers (46), East Hampton on Aug 22, 19 11:29 AM
1 member liked this comment
How many hikers have been shot by accident in the past 10 years?
By PatrickKing (15), Sah Harbor on Aug 22, 19 12:56 PM
How many hunting opponents had hotdog and hamburger BBQ's this summer?
By jkp720 (8), Westhampton on Aug 22, 19 4:38 PM
Deer burgers? No thanks. Hard pass.
By johnj (1024), Westhampton on Aug 22, 19 4:57 PM
You'd be surprised. I had a rather large party once and made meat on skewers. What's that called, with veggies on a stick, and you barbeque it? Anyway, it was thoroughly enjoyed by everyone. When asked the recipe, (because it was the best they ever had), well... first you start with deer meat. The response? Priceless.
By dklughers (46), East Hampton on Aug 22, 19 7:10 PM
I once won a chili contest with venison chili, also a priceless response! Kudos to you Deb for not using a moniker in this comment section! Helps keep things civil when you're not anonymous...
By Barley Dunne (21), Southampton on Aug 23, 19 6:59 AM
1 member liked this comment