Hunters Speak Out on Ban

One week after members of the East Hampton Group for Wildlife asked the East Hampton Town Board to institute a ban on hunting on one weekend day, a representative of the East Hampton Sportsmen’s Alliance delivered that group’s contrasting point of view.

Members of the Group for Wildlife told the board that, beyond their belief that hunting is inhumane, some residents feel that hiking and other recreation in the woods are hazardous during hunting season, while others are upset by the noise of firearms. Banning hunting on one weekend day, one said, would provide “one day of peace, quiet, and safety.” 

Terry O’Riordan, a director, treasurer, and secretary of the Sportsmen’s Alliance, told the board on Tuesday that the State Department of Environmental Conservation and the federal Fish and Wildlife Service control hunting regulations, “and believe me when I say they are very specific, detailed, and strictly enforced. Counties, towns, and villages cannot usurp these higher authorities” with respect to hunting regulations and wildlife management, he said. 

Referring to the Group for Wildlife’s message to “share our town land” in an ad in last week’s issue of The Star, Mr. O’Riordan said that hunters “have been sharing East Hampton Town lands with non-hunters for centuries.” The alliance numbers roughly 100 members, all of whom are residents or own property in the town, he said, and East Hampton’s hunters are a diverse group that includes conservationists and scientists. “They are the very fabric of our town and have been so for many generations.” 

Hunters, Mr. O’Riordan said, “have never asked to have exclusive rights to town-owned land for hunting,” while “the proposed ban contradicts the very word ‘share.’ ”

For most people, weekends are the only time for leisure, Mr. O’Riordan said, and deer hunting with firearms was permitted for just 26 days in January. “That is only 7 percent of the entire year!” he said, and just seven of those 26 days were weekend days. Losing half of those weekend days to a ban, and perhaps more to extreme winter weather conditions, would be unfairly restrictive, he said, while “non-hunters still maintain all 365 days to occupy and use town woods and lands.” 

No member of the Sportsmen’s Alliance could recall an incident in which a hunter shot a nonhunter, Mr. O’Riordan said. “Considering how much the population of our town has grown in the past 15 to 20 years, that’s a pretty good safety record.” 

The Sportsmen’s Alliance “adamantly believes that any such hunting ban on town lands would contradict centuries-long local traditions,” he said. “As Woody Guthrie sang, ‘This land is your land, this land is my land.’ ”