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Federal biologists plan Fire Island deer hunt to thin overwhelming herd

Mark Kent

On Long Island, federal biologists say an overabundance of deer on Fire Island is leading to an unbalanced ecosystem. Hunting at two park service locations will begin on January 3.

The number of white-tailed deer in the area is decreasing the amount of available habitat on the barrier island for other animals like turkeys, rabbits and birds of prey.

Hunters will be hired by the park service. They’ll cull the deer at the William Floyd Estate in Mastic Beach, which is part of the Fire Island National Seashore, and the federally protected wilderness on Fire Island. Hunting will end on February 28.

This latest hunt is the third attempt under a multi-year deer management plan, unveiled by state environmentalists earlier this year.

Critics advocated for a more humane way of reducing the herds, such as immunocontraceptives. State officials said fertility control drugs have been tried on Fire Island in the past, but proved to be inefficient and costly.

The goal for 2022 is to reduce up to 60 deer — a lot fewer than previous hunts.

The 2020 hunt ended with 230 deer killed. The meat was donated to local food banks.

Sabrina is host and producer of WSHU’s daily podcast After All Things. She also produces the climate podcast Higher Ground and other long-form news and music programs at the station. Sabrina spent two years as a WSHU fellow, working as a reporter and assisting with production of The Full Story.