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Shooting to cull: federal sharpshooters look to thin LI's deer population

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Federal sharpshooters will be aiming to kill as many as 3,000 white-tailed deer on the east end of Long Island beginning in February as part of an agreement between the Farm Bureau and Department of Agriculture. The deal is expected to be finalized by the end of this month.

According to Allen Gosser, assistant NY state director of the program, the “February cull will be the first landscape level effort to comprehensively reduce a deer popular.”

It is now estimated that there are between 25,000-35,000 white-tailed deer in the region, which have been blamed for everything from spreading lyme disease to car accidents, as well as destroying crops and home gardens.

“We are not talking about wildlife management anymore,” stated Southold Supervisor Scott Russell. “We are talking about pest control.”

The cull would involve special agents who would hunt from tree stands and the backs of trucks during a period of 40 nights, using night-vision equipment and silenced rifles, focusing primarily on does. Gosser added that the deer “would be shot in the head or neck so they die quickly and humanely.” The meat would then be donated to Long Island food pantries.

In the meantime, anti-hunting activists are protesting the program.

“Deer have become a convenient scapegoat for all sorts of things,” noted Bill Crain, a psychologist and president of the East Hampton Group for Wildlife. “To expand hunting or bring in a cull is incredibly misguided and cruel.”

It should also be noted that those in favor of the action are also pushing the state legislature to allow bow hunting within 150 feet of homes, down from the current restriction of 500-feet.

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