SOUTHOLD, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) - There's a controversial new plan to rid the East End of Long Island of deer.
As many as 35,000 deer inhabit the East End, CBS 2's Jennifer McLogan reported. Some experts say that's about twice as many as the land can support.
Federal sharpshooters will begin culling the deer in February in what will be the largest deer removal program in state history.
As WCBS 880's Sophia Hall reported, Town of Southold Supervisor Scott Russell said town officials decided to team up with the U.S. Department of Agriculture after other options were studied.
Federal Sharpshooters To Help Control Deer Population On L.I.'s East End
Russell said a panel tasked with exploring possible options decided sterilization and birth control were too costly or ineffective.
"This wasn't something that the town board took lightly," Russell told Hall. "It was basically a measure of last resort."
As many as 3,000 deer will be killed during the hunt.
"Most of it is due to loss of habitat, no natural predators, so the only way to only control a pest like a deer is through hunting," Joe Gergela with the Long Island Farm Bureau said.
"We've had about 800 injuries, we've had one confirmed death," said Russell.
When bow and arrow and licensed shotgun season ends in January, sharpshooting agents will move in with silenced rifles and night-vision goggles and, for 40 nights, hunt the deer from tree stands and in the backs of trucks.
"So we will bait the deer into established safe shooting zones and our marksmen will remove the deer safely and humanely," Allen Gosser of USDA Wildlife Services told McLogan.
However, some anti-hunting advocates oppose the plan and want to see a different way to control the deer population.
"It sounds like a slaughterhouse situation. It's not sporting, they aren't treated like game, just herded in and killed," said James Hunter with Group for Wildlife.
The meat will be donated to local Long Island food pantries.
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