Letter to the Editor, July 19, 2019

Fire Islanders have noticed the signs recently appearing throughout the communities, including Fair Harbor, Kismet, Ocean Beach, Seaview, Cherry Grove ­ –and even in Saltaire, which bans yard signs amidst their many rules.  These signs, printed by the Fire Island Wildlife Foundation, are meant to remind people that FINS really is going to kill our deer this fall and that we need to protest. The killing will be done in several ways. Our semi-tame deer will be hunted. FINS will establish an official NYSDEC deer hunting site, and along with that of course, illegal poaching will present a serious threat to residents. This was the case during FINS’ so-called ‘study-hunt’ that took place during the winter of 1988-89. FINS will also be killing deer at bait stations using silencers and night vision equipment, and from trucks driving along the island.  Lastly, ‘friendly’ deer will be special targets. A percentage of those trusting deer who show no fear of humans will be singled out and shot annually. FINS will be shooting itself in the foot with its plan to kill deer in the Sunken Forest, since the Forest was deeded to the federal government with explicit deed prohibitions on harming wildlife, and if this provision is violated, the land will by law automatically revert back into private hands. Longtime Fire Islanders will remember the very successful PZP deer contraception project that took place here in the 1990s. Lack of federal approval was listed by FINS as one of their “four criteria” blocking the ongoing use of PZP.  But now, PZP vaccine has been federally approved for use in deer, and so, with FINS’ other three criteria being unsupported by data and found by many in the scientific community to be totally lacking in merit, there is no longer any good reason to not again use PZP vaccine. The FIWF strongly opposes FINS’ lethal deer management plan. We hope that our message resonates with Fire Islanders as well as our many visitors. Deer have become part of the Fire Island culture, loved by both young and old. The idea of shooting these defenseless animals is offensive to many. Let’s deal with the deer in a humane way!  Contraception not killing.  It worked before, it will work again. Richard von ZerneckBoard Member, Fire Island Wildlife Foundation