Out-of-Town Game Hunters Welcome Here

Big game hunters who live in East Hampton and have town and state hunting licenses will now be able to get a guest license for a nonresident hunter, following a vote of the town board last Thursday. The nonresident will have to have required state licenses, however.

Before voting on the new rule, which mirrors one that applies to bow hunting, board members heard comments from a hunter and from several advocates for wildlife, said Town Councilman Fred Overton, who sponsored the law.

Bill Crain of the East Hampton Group for Wildlife said that allowing more people to hunt here will increase the amount of gunfire in the woods, creating greater risks to hikers, and will result in more suffering for the deer that are being hunted. Nonresident hunters will be less accountable to town residents and neighbors of hunting lands, he said.

Mr. Crain said that the town board had, in recent months, added acreage to the lands where hunting is allowed, had extended the January hunting seasons for hunting with both guns and bows and arrows, and had authorized hunting closer to residential areas.

Instead, he suggested, the board should consider establishing wildlife sanctuaries free of hunting.

Hugh Miles, a hunter, endorsed the guest hunting proposal. “We have traditionally extended the courtesy of guests to bow hunters,” Mr. Overton said. Councilman Peter Van Scoyoc said that a lot of East Hampton families have members who have moved away who would like to come back and hunt.

“I’m going to vote for it, but I understand how you feel, that there’s going to be suffering,” Councilwoman Sylvia Overby told Mr. Crain. “There could be worse suffering.”

“Hunting is a tradition out here,” she said. “What would really be inhumane would be sterilization of animals,” she said, referring to a recent program in East Hampton Village. “And a cull is brutal.”

Mr. Crain, speaking lightly, had a final word. “Patriarchy and slavery are traditional,” he said. “Not every tradition is worth saving.”

The board, he said, has “added so much hunting,” in piecemeal decisions, that the effect is equivalent to approving a deer cull.