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OFFICIALS PRAISE BAIT-SHOOT; SOME RESIDENTS ARE STILL UPSET

While Cheektowaga town officials are happy with the way their bait-and-shoot program was carried out, some residents are not.

"The bait-and-shoot program was absolutely ridiculous," Kelly Robinson told the Town Board Monday night. "People are heartbroken."

The Depew woman said she and some friends have gathered "hundreds and hundreds" of signatures on petitions stating opposition to the bait-and-shoot program.

The town killed 78 deer last month under a state Department of Environmental Conservation permit to reduce the deer herd. It was part of the town's Car/Deer Accident Reduction Program. Deer were shot by Cheektowaga Police sharpshooters in Stiglmeier Park, on town-owned land on Walden Avenue near Harlem Road, and on land at the Erie County overflow retention facility on Cayuga Creek Road.

The number of car-deer accidents has risen in the town over the past few years, and the trend is continuing this year. In the first three months of last year there were 36 car-deer accidents, and from January to March 28 there had been 72 accidents.

Council Member James J. Jankowiak said last week he was pleased with the program and the way it was carried out in Cheektowaga. The town plans to seek another permit this fall, which probably would cover several months of baiting and shooting. He said the town also will implement other traffic safety measures to help cut down on accidents.

But Robinson and others who frequent Stiglmeier Park said the program has drastically reduced the deer population in the park.

"People are heartbroken," she said.

Park visitors also said they had seen trails of blood in the park on several mornings after the previous evening's bait and shoot. Town officials said they took pains to contain blood and tried to clean it up. The deer were not field-dressed but were taken to another location to be cut and gutted before being transported to a meat processor. The town donated 2,200 pounds of venison to the Food Bank of Western New York.

"It was terrible, and we're not going to let you do it again," Robinson told the board.

e-mail: bobrien@buffnews.com

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