Long Island Deer Win Reprieve as Judge Puts Temporary Hold on Planned Cull

Washington, DC—A state court judge in New York issued a temporary injunction on Thursday to prevent new permits from being issued to kill deer as part of the Long Island Deer Cull Project—one of the largest planned deer slaughters in the country. The injunction comes in response to a lawsuit filed on March 6, 2014, by the Animal Welfare Institute (AWI) and a group of local organizations in Suffolk County to stop the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) from issuing the permits until the DEC fully evaluates the environmental impacts of the cull, as required by state law. The diverse group of plaintiffs includes eastern Long Island citizens and conservation, animal welfare, and local hunting organizations.

“While this court order does not stop the killing, it does slow the DEC-led deer killing frenzy occurring on eastern Long Island,” explained Cathy Liss, president of AWI. “The court acted in a manner consistent with the law and we would now welcome a DEC decision to cease issuing permits, repeal existing permits, and subject its program to the requisite environmental review.”

The Long Island Deer Cull Project, devised by the Long Island Farm Bureau and the US Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services Program, calls for the killing of potentially thousands of deer over several years on eastern Long Island. Under the Project, federal sharpshooters using high-powered weapons would shoot deer over bait piles or potentially trap and shoot groups of deer using nets.

“As a society, we need to stop using bullets to address deer-human conflicts and, instead, use existing non-lethal techniques and seek out new strategies for living with deer,” adds D.J. Schubert, wildlife biologist for AWI. “We believe most citizens of eastern Suffolk County, knowing the facts, would be outraged by this slaughter. Yet their voices and concerns have been ignored by the DEC, Wildlife Services, the Long Island Farm Bureau, and the municipalities, which refuse to consider feasible and effective alternatives to wholesale slaughter.”

The temporary injunction issued by the court will remain in place until at least March 28, 2014, when a hearing on a preliminary injunction is currently scheduled to occur.

Plaintiffs in addition to AWI include the Wildlife Preservation Coalition of Eastern Long Island, Hunters for Deer, LLC, Long Island Orchestrating for Nature, the Evelyn Alexander Wildlife Rescue Center, Inc., and several individuals. The plaintiffs are being represented by Jeffrey S. Baker and Jessica R. Vigars of Young/Sommer LLC in Albany, one of the preeminent environmental law firms in New York state.

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