AVON – No dissenters spoke as the Deer Management Committee publicly presented their plan to coordinate regulated annual deer culling in the Village.
The committee, consisting of Don Mastin, Kevin Allen, Chris Connie, Scott Gage, Herb Jones, Chuck Kanty, Trustee Rob Hayes, Avon Police Officer Joe Geer, and NYS Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) representative Art Kirsch, presented the main points of the harvest plan designed to depopulate the Village deer herd.
“This is not going to be a hunt. This is going to be harvesting,” said Kanty. “This isn’t going to be people saying ‘Oh, we’re going to turn this place into a hunter’s paradise. That’s not our goal. […] This is going to be a job. This isn’t going to be a pleasant task. I don’t think anyone who is a hunter here thinks it will be.”
Historically, not all Village residents have agreed that the harvest will be necessary or effective. However, at this meeting, none of the more than 20 attendees voiced any opposition.
One community member asked how large a take would be necessary to have an impact on the local deer population. Kirsch replied that the DEC will tally negative deer interactions and markers to see if they decrease over time.
“I’ve always said and I’ll continue to say that you don’t need to know how many deer are in a town or how many deer are in a population,” said Kirsch. “You need to look at the impacts that they cause. […] We plan on getting some baseline parameters for some common impacts such as car-deer accidents, lyme disease and browse damage on landscape plants so we can compare a before and after situation. The best thing we can do is look at trend information. Are markers going down in the population? I think the challenge is going to be taking enough deer starting year one. I think [the harvest] is something that would grow over time.”
The proposition is for the Village to purchase and set up three $100 to $150 battery-powered deer feeders on three properties in the area of River Street and Sunset Drive on which the Committee has been granted verbal permission (to be put in writing as the plan continues). Shooters who pass an archery marksmanship test will sit in tree stands no more than once a week on Fridays, Saturdays or Sundays and wait for deer to approach the feeder at dusk or at night. Shooters will be members of the Deer Committee during the first year and then interested Village residents in following years.
The committee used a map of the Village marked with colored pins to show the locations of the three harvest sites and locations of residences from which the survey received ‘yes’ or ‘no’ votes.
“If we’re going to have a deer control effort done, we want to do it where the Village residents feel it should be conducted,” said Kanty. “We went to those streets that had the most responses. The vast majority of the yes votes were south of 5&20, so we wanted to gear any control efforts to that section of the Village.”
Shooting will be done with the shooters’ own bows, equipped with lights attached to the stabilizer bar.
“According to the consultant at Cornell, it does not take much difficulty at all to get used to the lights,” said Mastin. “I haven’t done it, so I don’t know, but he assures me that it’s something that can be learned very fast.”
Kirsch said that the priority will be shooting as many adult female deer as possible.
“The emphasis is going to be on does, but if you have a clear shot on a buck and no other options, you can take it,” said Kirsch. “But it’s certainly not a trophy hunt and the DEC will be taking all antlers of those deer shot. And it’s late winter, so some bucks may be dropping their antlers anyway.”
Though no one at the meeting voiced any problem with baiting, Kanty explained why the deer feeders will be used.
“The purpose of baiting, at least the way we see it, is we feel it will provide the safest, most humane way of harvesting these deer. You can have people out in a tree stand, and I’m not a hunter, but if suddenly that deer moves, you don’t have the shot you once had, and you’re more likely to wound, whereas if they’re focusing on the food you’re going to have a cleaner, more effective shot and it’s less likely that you’ll have a stray deer wandering off if he’s wounded.’
‘We are not proposing eliminating all of the deer in the Village,” added Kanty. “That would be foolish and more than likely impossible. For the participants, this will not be like a day out hunting with your buddies.”
No start date has been proposed to the Village Board. However, Mastin pointed out that the Town of Trumansburg’s deer harvest program, on which this proposition is based, runs from Sept. 1 to the end of March. Trumansburg currently operates 11 deer stands as part of its annual harvest program. Mastin emphasized that, at least for the first year, only three stands would be in service.
“Year one we are starting very small,” said Mastin. “The Village Board has asked us to keep it small, almost like a trial.”
Formal approval of the harvest is still pending. The Village must still obtain a DEC permit, amend their ordinance on the discharge of bows for these hunters, and authorize the Deer Committee to execute the control plan.
There will be a public hearing at a later date to hear comments from the public before the board considers amending the Village ordinance on firing bows for the designating shooters.