Protection of Long Island White-Tailed Deer

Protection of Long Island White-Tailed Deer - Photo from Flickr/Rich Schieren

Town of Southold Case

Case Name:
Wildlife Preservation Coalition of Eastern Long Island, by its president Wendy Chamberlin, Animal Welfare Institute, Hunters for Deer, LLC, Laura Westlake, Patrick McBride, and Isabelle Kanz, v. Town of Southold, Town Board of the Town of Southold, Scott A. Russell, in his capacity as Town Supervisor of the Town of Southold, Long Island Farm Bureau

Nature of Case:
The Animal Welfare Institute and its co-plaintiffs brought this suit under Article 78 of the Civil Practice Law and Rules in an attempt to enjoin the town of Southold from giving up to $25,000 to Long Island Farm Bureau (LIFB) for the East End Deer Management Project and/or a deer cull on agricultural farms within the town of Southold, as approved by the Southold Town Board. AWI alleged that the Town Board arbitrarily and unreasonably applied the agricultural exception of the New York State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA) and should have made a determination on the project’s significance through the Environmental Assessment Form (EAF). Judge Gerard Asher denied AWI’s request for a temporary restraining order prior to any receipt of documents from Defendants, the Town of Southold.

Court:
New York State Supreme Court, Suffolk County

Plaintiffs:
Wildlife Preservation Coalition of Eastern Long Island; Animal Welfare Institute; Hunters for Deer, LLC; Laura Westlake; Patrick McBride; Isabelle Kanz

Defendants:
Town of Southold; Town Board of the Town of Southold; Scott A. Russell, as Town Supervisor of the Town of Southold; Long Island Farm Bureau

Status:

Affirmation of Jeffrey S. Baker filed on February 19, 2014

Memorandum of Law filed on February 19, 2014

Verified Petition filed on February 19, 2014

Lawsuit dismissed by Judge Gerard Asher on February 26, 2014

 

State Case

Case Name:
Wildlife Preservation Coalition of Eastern Long Island, by its president Wendy Chamberlin, Animal Welfare Institute, Hunters for Deer, LLC, Long Island Orchestrating for Nature, the Evelyn Alexander Wildlife Rescue Center, Inc., Isabelle Kans, Barbara McAdam, Patrick McBride and Michael Tessitore, v. New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, Joe Martens, in his capacity as Commissioner of New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, the Long Island Farm Bureau, the Village of North Haven, and John Does

Nature of Case:
The Animal Welfare Institute and its co-plaintiffs brought this suit against the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) over the Department’s decision to implement the Long Island Deer Project (LIDP), a plan to cull up to 5,250 white-tailed deer over a four-month period with an expected cost of over $505,000 for local towns. AWI and its co-plaintiffs asserted that the DEC violated NEPA through the agency’s reliance on an eleven year old Environmental Assessment for the implementation of the LIDP, instead of preparing an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) considering the magnitude of the geographical area that will be affected by the LIDP. On March 6, 2014, the State of New York Supreme Court, Albany County, granted a temporary restraining order on behalf of AWI and its co-plaintiffs, and the Defendants, DEC et. al, were ordered to show cause as to why a preliminary injunction should not be issued.

The USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service Wildlife Services ended up preparing an Environmental Assessment as a result of the lawsuit in December 2015 and, ultimately, the lawsuit limited the number of deer killed, caused several communities to drop out of the cull entirely, and led to at least one community exploring non-lethal options in the form of wildlife immunocontraception.

Court:
New York State Supreme Court, Albany County

Plaintiffs:
Wildlife Preservation Coalition of Eastern Long Island; Animal Welfare Institute; Hunters for Deer, LLC. Long Island Orchestrating for Nature; the Evelyn Alexander Wildlife Rescue Center, Inc. Isabelle Kanz; Barbara McAdam; Patrick McBride; Michael Tessitore

Defendants:
New York State Department of Environmental Conservation; Joe Martens, as Commissioner of New York State Department of Environmental Conservation; The Long Island Farm Bureau; The Village of North Haven; John Does

Status:

Letter to APHIS regarding Long Island Deer Project dated January 24, 2014

Affidavit of Laura Simon signed on March 5, 2014

Verified Petition and Complaint filed on March 6, 2014

Petitioner-Plaintiff’s Memorandum of Law filed on March 6, 2014

Temporary Restraining Order filed on March 6, 2014

Supplemental Affirmation of Jeffrey Baker dated March 27, 2014

Petitioners-Plaintiffs’ Reply Memorandum of Law In Response to Respondents-Defendants’ Answer, Motions and Cross-Motions filed March 27, 2014

A hearing on the preliminary injunction was originally scheduled for March 28, 2014; however this hearing has been rescheduled for a time yet to be determined.

 

Read more about the background of the case and check out the case media.

 

Protection of Long Island White-Tailed Deer: Background

Under the National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA) the preparation of an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) or Environmental Assessment (EA) is required for any proposed federal action that will significantly affect the quality of the human environment. The USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service Wildlife Services (APHIS-WS) together with New York Wildlife Services’ created the Long Island Deer Project (LIDP); this LIDP is the type of federal action that requires an EA or EIS under NEPA. The LIPD is a plan to cull up to 5,250 white-tailed deer over a four-month period with an expected cost of over $505,000 for local towns.

AWI alleges that the DEC violated NEPA through the agency’s reliance on an 11-year-old Environmental Assessment for the implementation of the LIDP, instead of preparing an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) considering the magnitude of the geographical area that will be affected by the LIDP. In 2003, APHIS-WS prepared an EA for an “integrated wildlife damage management approach for the management of white-tailed deer damage in the State of New York.” The management plan for which the 2003 EA was created was a statewide deer management plan and therefore does not address specifically the areas in which the LIDP is to take place. Additionally, the 2003 EA conducted addressed the killing on no more than 1,000 white-tailed deer per year by APHIS-WS, across the entire state of New York. The LIDP proposes the killing of up to 5,250 deer solely in Eastern Long Island over a mere 40-day period, therefore the LIDP is five times the scope of the annual APHIS-WS take accounted for by the 2003 EA. In 2009, APHIS-WS prepared a 2009 Decision/FONSI (Finding Of No Significant Impact), however such document is not a legal substitute for a supplemental EA. Further, the 2009 Decision/FONSI was limited to the take of 1,000 white-tailed deer annually across the state of New York, just as the 2003 EA was, hindering the application of either to the LIDP.

Due to this, the Animal Welfare Institute and its co-plaintiffs brought suit against the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), asserting NEPA violations through the Department’s decision to implement the LIPD prior to conducting an EA, supplemental EA, or EIS.

 

Protection of Long Island White-Tailed Deer: Case Media

 

Protection of Long Island White-Tailed Deer: Additional Resources

2003 Environmental Assessment

APHIS-WS 2009 Decision/FONSI

Letter to APHIS regarding Long Island Deer Project dated January 24, 2014