Seventy-five Amherst residents banded together Wednesday evening and formed an organization to stop the police shooting of deer in northern Amherst.
Amherst Citizens Against Violent Control of Deer was born during a meeting set up in the Clearfield Library by Marsha McCulloch, an Amherst nurse.
"I've felt strongly about this issue for a long time," she explained, "but suddenly it has crept up on us with this bait-and-shoot program -- which is better called ambush-and-slaughter."
Ms. McCulloch set 6 p.m. Wednesday for the next meeting in the library at 770 Hopkins Road.
One strong supporter of the new group, former Amherst Supervisor Jack Sharpe, said the Amherst Police Department recently spent $1,200 to buy two hunting rifles and has budgeted more than $1,500 to pay off-duty officers to bait and shoot deer.
Ms. McCulloch said she was told by James Snyder, a state Department of Environmental Conservation biologist, that the goal is to kill 300 deer this spring.
"We've got to pressure the Town Board to rescind the bait-and-shoot program and find more humane ways to handle the deer population."
Williamsville lawyer Michael Purvis said a suit to stop the shooting is being prepared by attorney Michael Taheri, who has one plaintiff but would welcome other plaintiffs as well as information about shooting locations.
"If anyone has made a videotape of officers shooting deer or hunting them with rifles, this would be helpful, Purvis said."
Amherst Police Capt. Thomas Maier addressed the group but left when his statements came under fire.
Asked why police don't shoot deer with tranquilizers, for transport to Letchworth State Park, Maier said the cost would be prohibitive, and besides, deer usually don't survive such trauma.
"The point is, right now you are killing deer -- with cars," Maier said. "Deer are being controlled right now by cars. I say it's more humane to do it with rifles."
Residents disagreed, and Maier left.