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In 2010 Village of Lansing Mayor Donald Hartill said that about 40 deer were killed in auto collisions in the Village the previous year.  Monday he said there have been none.  That is one of the impacts of the Village's deer population control hunt, which is entering its 13th year.  But Cornell University Department of Natural Resources Dr. Bernd Blossey, who runs the hunt for the Village of Lansing, Cornell University, and a few other local municipalities, says there is still work to be done to reduce the local herd to sustainable levels.  But Cornell University Department of Natural Resources' Dr. Bernd Blossey, who manages the Village of Lansing program said there is more to do.

"If you didn't do this as a maintenance job every single year, you would be going back to where you were in a couple of years," Blossey said. "That's the experience whenever people have tried to stop the programs.  When we look at the ability of plants and forest trees to grow, it has improved, but it is far from where you would like it to be.  Without protection you're not going to get an oak to grow here.  People report they are seeing plants in their yards that they haven't seen.  Ash is growing better.  That's fine, but it's nowhere near where you should be."

The Village program requires bow hunters to sign up and be approved for the program, essentially making them the only hunters permitted in the Village with the exception of landowners who hunt on their own property with regular deer season permits.  Blossey's group has monitored properties that landowners have approved for the program, and may hunt outside of the regular deer hunting season.

The Trustees voted Monday to authorize Mayor Donald Hartill to apply to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) for Deer Depredation (nuisance) Permits (DDP) that will allow hunters to hunt in the Village outside of normal hunting season, and under special rules that include hunting 24 hours a day as well as putting out bait to attract deer.  That is not a change from last year, but, as he has in the past few years, Blossey made a case for allowing crossbows in the Village, that only permits traditional and compound bow hunting.

"We have a number of aging participants that have difficulties with their shoulders who can't hold back a regular bow any more," he said.

Deputy Mayor Ronny Hardaway listed concerns about crossbows the trustees had discussed at an earlier meeting.

"The concerns were that crossbows can shoot farther than a standard composition bow," he said. "The darts used for crossbows are shorter, therefore they could be more easily lost within an environment where they're not found and present dangers to other people coming through that area, stepping on a point.  They're very close to the lethality of a rifle. If a rifle misses it can go a long distance and hit a target that's not intended."

Blossey replied that distance isn't an issue because hunters are shooting downward from tree stands, and said that the distance isn't that much farther than a compound bow is capable of.  He said there is greater accuracy with crossbows using a scope, but it is offset by the fact that you only get one shot.

Addressing the concern of shorter arrows, he said, "Most of the individuals that I know shoot with lighted nocks.  They are lit at the time that you discharge them from the bow.  The reason for that is you see arrow flight, and to find them, because they're twenty bucks apiece.  I know people who go through the woods to find them because they're expensive.  So your idea of somebody stepping on them would be equally applicable for regular bows as for crossbows."

Blossey said that deer are not as apparent in the Village now because the food supply is more plentiful and because the various deer population management programs around Tompkins County have made a difference.  He said that the Cornell program has been more active because the deer come onto the campus from the City of Ithaca.

"We have shot more animals at Cornell than ever before, because the city just dumps them onto us.  State Farm reported 170 deer killed in the City of Ithaca last season.  It takes us three or four years at Cornell to do that in an area that's much, much bigger than what the city is."

He explained why the programs must continue, even though fewer deer are being spotted in the Village during the day.

"That's true for the simple reason that there's more food available for them, not only this year when we had a really good growing season, but typically the high populations we had here you could find ten out on the lawn in the morning or afternoon almost any time of the year," he said. "There's more food available so they become, really, what they are - crepuscular.  So during the changeover from light to dark they are night-active animals. That's why you don't see them.  Once we put our cameras out I have ten passing through.  So that's the difference. We don't see them. They don't need to travel as far any more for the food availability. That's why you don't have as many road kills any more.  And Cayuga Heights has obviously done something using crossbows and darting and euthanasia."

Blossey noted that the Cornell and Trumansburg programs allow crossbows and Cayuga Heights only allows crossbows in their program.

Hartill said that he was reluctant to push for crossbows because only three of the five Board of trustees members were present Monday.  Blossey noted that the urgent action is to send the application to the DEC to allow time for it to be processed by the state agency, and the Trustees can decide about crossbows before October, when the program goes into full swing.

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