Dregs of Deer Management: Fire Island National Seashore Announces Another Cull

Photo by Beth Batkiewicz.

By Shoshanna McCollum

For the fifth winter in a row, there will be deer killing on Fire Island. Fire Island National Seashore (FINS) has announced the sharpshooting of deer on National Park Service lands on Fire Island proper, as well as the William Floyd Estate in Mastic Beach and also under their auspices. Said operation will begin in the second half of February, 2023.

“Deer management on NPS-land on Fire Island and the William Floyd Estate has been a multi- year effort, done safely, and with success. It’s important that we continue this effort to ensure the desired deer densities can be met to support a more diverse ecosystem,” FINS Superintendent Alexcy Romero is quoted as saying in the written statement issued on Valentine’s Day.

None of this came as much of a surprise to observant year-round residents like Mark Stang of Ocean Beach, who noticed the tell-tale sign of baiting FINS tracts days before the official announcement.

“FINS is again baiting deer on Fire Island in advance of shooting them. This is illegal in New York… Unbelievable,” he wrote on a neighborhood media page on February 9, with a video clip documenting the same.

The regulations Stang is citing can be found in the New York State Department of Conservation Hunting Regulations which state:

“It is illegal to hunt with the aid of bait, or over any baited area when hunting big game, upland game birds, turkey or waterfowl. It is illegal to place a salt block or mineral lick on lands inhabited by deer at any time of year. It is also illegal to feed deer. Some attractants that are marketed for deer are liquids or dissolving powders which deer may not directly consume, but the attractants may entice deer to feed on the material which absorbed the attractant. These types of products would not be legal.”

This disconnect has baffled much of the Fire Island residency ever since the present FINS Deer Management Plan was approved in 2016.

“I have a lifetime hunting license,” said Stang in a telephone interview with Fire Island News, “I’m not allowed to do that on my property, but apparently the feds are above the law.”