By Sarah Varney
According to one local mayor, Westchester County officials have reneged on a February pledge to help Rye and Mamaroneck decrease the deer population by taking advantage of the current bow-hunting season.
In a Sept. 30 letter Rye City Mayor Joe Sack, a Republican, received from the county, Deputy County Executive Kevin Plunkett said the two municipalities must first submit their deer management strategies in order to gain help from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation for either a cull or a bow-hunting operation. Because the municipalities have not done so, Plunkett added that the county cannot move ahead with any plan assisting Rye and Mamaroneck without an acceptable strategy in place.
Needless to say, Sack wasn’t happy with the county’s response.
“‘Screw you. Do it yourself,’ that’s what they told us, in effect,” Sack told the Review recently.
“They went back on their word.” Sack indicated that the City of Rye might pursue a strategy employing a private company to cull the deer.
In February, the mayors sent a joint letter to John Baker, Westchester County’s director of conservation, requesting permission to trigger a Deer Management Assistance Plan using the DEC. Under this program, the DEC can put together a team of certified bowhunters that will hunt deer during certain hours on specific days. A recent count of area deer estimated 274 deer per quarter square mile, a number that is believed to be growing fast.
At a Sept. 25 deer forum in Mamaroneck, Sack expressed his frustration with the county’s delay in addressing the issue. Bowhunting season runs from Oct. 1 to Dec. 31.
But there’s more to it than simply requesting a deer intervention, according to Peter Tartaglia, deputy commissioner of Westchester Parks, Recreation and Conservation. Municipalities must convince neighboring cities and villages to support the decision.
Tartaglia stressed that any strategy that includes hunting will not work without regional partnerships in place. He added that within the city limits, a DMAP proposal should include permission from area neighboring county lands that would serve as hunting grounds.
The key is to create a regional partnership in which all parties would participate in a hunt on the same days and times. If the program isn’t created with the assistance of regional partners, a hunt won’t work because the deer will simply cross into a safe parcel of land or even large yards.
Tartaglia said the county hopes to see a complete plan from the joint Rye-Mamaroneck group by Oct. 15 but neither mayor is interested in working on such a plan.
According to Village of Mamaroneck Mayor Norman Rosenblum, a Republican, the village will head back to the drawing board.
“This [reply from the county] strengthens my opinion that we need to do this on the local level. The main thing is not to stick our heads in the sand,” he said. Rosenblum added that plans using sterilization and a hunting program sponsored by private landowners would both be worth exploring further.
Without DEC involvement, deer hunting could only take place on private property with licensed hunters. Sack indicated that he would pursue a private solution with landowners in Rye.