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Cayuga Heights deer problem takes center stage

Video of TV news story at:

Cayuga Heights deer problem takes center stage Wednesday
by Caitlin Nuclo

CAYUGA HEIGHTS -- Dozens of people spoke Wednesday morning at public hearing on a controversial plan to control the deer population in Cayuga Heights.

A proposed change to a local law in the village would authorize a marksman to shoot and kill deer in an attempt to control the population. A copy of the proposed change can be read by clicking here.

The small village is just outside of Ithaca. It covers about two square miles, but is home to up to 200 deer. The village is aiming to get the population down to 40.

"That's160 deer. It's unlikely that would be implemented in a single year. The plan is described as a phased option approach taking place over the course of a number of years," said Mayor Kate Supron.

The public hearing was standing-room only, and some people were even pushed into the hallway. About 45 people spoke. A handful of them do support the deer remediation plan. But most who spoke were opposed to the plan, saying their biggest concern, aside from killing deer, is the safety of residents. Some are worried about gunfire and stray bullets in the village.

"It's not necessary, it's going to divide our village and it involves bringing violence into our peaceful neighborhoods," said James Laveck.

"Houses are within close proximity of eachother, and then when you think about teenagers going through the woods, they're not going to stay on trails. Children could end up in the line of fire. i feel it's my responsibility to take a stand," said I Valesky.

The village says landowners have to give permission for a marksman to come on their property to shoot the deer, otherwise they would not be able to come within 500 feet.

Even those who are concerned about the use of guns, say something has to be done about the deer. "There are just too many of them, the amount of property damage they've done is appalling," said Pete Bottorff.

This is the latest proposal in an effort to control the deer population in Cayuga Heights. The village has been addressing the problem for years. A vote on the proposed law is scheduled for the next board meeting, January 9th.

What do you think about the proposal? Should the village look to kill more than 100 deer to control to population?

Video of TV news story at:

Hearing on firearm laws fuels debate in Cayuga Heights
By: Tamara Lindstrom
A proposal to change local firearms laws to allow sharpshooters in Cayuga Heights is met with impassioned debate. Tamara Lindstrom has the latest on the plan to cut down the deer population

TOMPKINS COUNTY, N.Y. -- It's the next step in a plan that has stirred passionate arguments from both opponents and supporters.

"The primary purpose of the amendment to the law is to allow contractors selected by the board to be legally allowed to discharge firearm in the village," said Cayuga Heights Mayor Kate Supron.

Leaders in the Village of Cayuga Heights held a hearing Wednesday morning on the proposed change to local firearm laws. It would allow the firm White Buffalo to shoot deer within Village limits to reduce the population.

"There's too many of them," said Cayuga Heights resident Pete Bottorff. "The amount of property damage that they have done is appalling. When I moved in 17 years ago, I had some lovely bushes out in front, some magnolias and stuff like that. There's hardly anything left of them."

But most of the 45 community members who spoke at the hearing expressed deep concerns. The main issue was safety.

"It's 1.7 square miles. It is not big enough with senior citizens, children riding bikes, people walking dogs, to have people shooting guns," said Sherrie Negrea, a Cayuga Heights resident.

"There is very clear opposition in this community and there's a lot of worry," said village resident Kora von Wittelsbach. "I teach at Cornell and I'm very concerned about the safety of my students, of my friends. Parents of Cornell students have been calling me. They are extremely concerned."

The mayor says she's confident in the contractors.

"They have very stringent standards on safety. And this is a tight environment. They acknowledge it. We acknowledge it," Supron said.

Neighbors asked for alternative solutions, suggesting sterilizing more deer or allowing homeowners greater freedom to build fences.

"I feel it's incumbent on the board to find a solution that we can all work with and that will not put people in fear of their lives," Negrea said.

Supron pointed out that despite the controversy, she ran unopposed on a deer management platform in the last election. The mayor invited opponents to run in the March elections.

"That is the decision making process," Supron said. "That is the way that people can affect change."

Meanwhile, board members are determined to see the plan through.

Leaders will still need permission from property owners to allow shooting within 500 feet of their residences.

The board plans to vote in January.

Note: I was at this hearing and videotaped it, and the vast majority of people spoke passionately against the law. Only a handful of people spoke in favor, yet nearly all their comments appear in this write up. NEWS01/112210372/Cayuga-Heights-trustees-hear-villagers-set-vote-firearm-exception?odyssey=tab|topnews|text|FRONTPAGE

Cayuga Heights trustees hear villagers, set vote on firearm exception
Written by
Rachel Stern

Cayuga Heights -- Marcham Hall was filled to capacity. Some people were forced into the hallway to avoid a fire code violation. Others sat on the floor or lined the perimeter of the room.

The crowd of about 60 gathered Wednesday morning to voice opinions on a proposed amendment to the village's local law on firearms and other dangerous weapons.

The amendment would make it legal for the village's contractor, White Buffalo Inc., to discharge firearms in connection with the village's deer management program. Current law prohibits any person to carry or discharge a firearm, shotgun, rifle, air gun, any bow or other instrument within the village, except in the course of official duty or self defense.

But after Wednesday's hearing, in which 45 people -- both residents and non-residents of the village -- spoke, the board decided to postpone a vote until its Jan. 9 meeting.

The village has about 3,700 residents.

The majority of those who spoke at the public hearing expressed concerns about allowing firearms to be discharged in the village. Those people said they were worried how the shootings would affect children, said the village would turn into a killing zone, and urged the board to wait to learn if sterilization and the new fencing ordinance lower the deer population.

Some people spoke in favor of the deer management program, but preferred the net and bolt method, as opposed to the discharge of weapons. This method calls for deer to be caught in nets and then shot with a special gun that fires a bolt into the animal's head, designed to kill them instantly without pain.

Those who supported the change to the local law said villagers had a clear choice in the last couple of elections and overwhelmingly supported a deer management plan.

Speaking against the local law change, Iva Lesky said shooting deer would harm children both physically and emotionally.

"Seeing a wounded deer, blood trails, or other evidence of the process may be scarring, especially when children know the result is not an accident, but part of a deliberate campaign," Lesky said.

Adelaide Gomer said she was born and raised in Cayuga Heights and has four generations of her family living in the village. Gomer said the thought of weapons being discharged secretly and in undisclosed locations is outrageous.

"This will divide the community and turn Cayuga Heights into an annual killing field," she said. "It is surreal and grotesque and many of us are ashamed to live here. We are better than this."

Sherrie Negrea spoke in favor of sterilizing 60 does. The sterilization, in conjunction with the new fencing ordinance, would enable the village to control the deer population without killing, she said.

Village resident David Donner said the past elections indicate Cayuga Heights residents overwhelmingly support the board's actions with regards to deer management. The change to the local law is simply part of that process, he said.

It is difficult to walk in his backyard because 12 deer regularly congregate there, Robert Harris said. As a result, he said he supported the altering of the local law.

"Until four or five years ago we lived in harmony with the deer," he said. "Yes, they nibbled on some of our flowers, but they didn't decimate our plants like they do now."


The shooting would take place from six locations at bait sites, but those sites would not be disclosed. It would not be a wise public safety move to draw attention to those sites, she said. But, she added: "People will not be wandering around with a gun. They will not be out there on the roads."

In the meantime, the 12 people who filed a lawsuit challenging the Cayuga Heights deer-management program are appealing after a judge ruled in favor of the trustees. While the group waits for their appeal to be heard, their lawyer, Arthur Giacalone, filed a motion asking for preliminary injunction. The injunction would hold everything in place until the appeal can be heard, Giacalone said.

"The injunction, if it is granted, would maintain the status quo until the court hears our appeal," he said. "If it is granted, the village would not be able to move ahead with their plan until that appeal is heard."

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