CROTON-ON-HUDSON, N.Y. – As Teatown Lake Reservation celebrated its 10th annual Eaglefest at Croton Point Park Saturday, a few of its members protested the nature preserve’s practice of deer culling, which began Friday night.
New York State Supreme Court Judge Lester Adler ruled Friday morning to allow the deer culling, which Teatown says is necessary because of the deteriorating condition of its forest. It says the overpopulation of deer is hurting the habitat for other wildlife. It has a density of 70 deer per square mile on its 875-acre preserve.
The recommended density is 10 or less per square mile, according to a frequently asked questions page on the Teatown website.
“We’re interested in the biodiversity of all species and the ecosystem is home to many, many animals; and we’re interested in a long-range vision to preserve the forest for all animals that live in the forest,” Kevin Carter, executive director of Teatown, told the Daily Voice.
Ann Marie Marx of Croton-on-Hudson led the protest at the entrance of Croton Point Park. She has been a member of Teatown since moving to the area three year ago.
Fellow protester Birgit Robertson, also of Croton-on-Hudson, said she has been a member for 35 years. Both said they plan to cancel their membership with Teatown.
“We’re here today to make people aware of what Teatown is doing behind people’s backs,” Marx said. “As they are presenting Eaglefest today as a nice sanitized activity, behind the scenes they are baiting and shooting deer. I think this is disgusting and despicable animal cruelty. This is completely in opposition to what they say their mission is.”
Teatown members and residents whole live near the preserve received an email Friday after Adler’s ruling notifying them that deer culling would begin Friday night.
It will last four-to-six nights depending on the weather and is being done by the U.S. Department of Agriculture using a state permit. The cull is being done using rifles and will only occur in “carefully selected and shielded areas of our preserve.”
Marx sad Teatown should try sterilizing the deer as a more humane option. However, that has been shown to reduce deer numbers by 20 to 50 percent, which would take years to have an impact and isn’t enough to allow for forest regeneration, according to the Teatown website.
“We respect their right to be here and certainly they have a passionate conviction about what they feel we’re doing,” Carter said.