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Outcry over deer problems prompts West Seneca to take steps toward remedies

Deer are being blamed for problems in West Seneca, especially destruction of bushes and hedges, and it has town officials looking for a solution.

Supervisor Sheila M. Meegan said she is receiving 30 to 40 emails a month and an “incredible amount of phone calls” weekly from residents asking the town to address the deer population.

“This year, they’re hungrier than ever,” she said. “I think because of the weather, there’s no movement, so they’re just hanging out there.”

At its Feb. 8 meeting, the Town Board asked Police Chief Daniel M. Denz to look into the issue, and he reported back Monday night that he has had conversations with the state Department of Environmental Conservation, sportsmen’s clubs and police chiefs in other towns that use bait-and-shoot programs.

“What we are undertaking here is going to be a lengthy study before we do anything,” he said.

Denz said that he has been in touch with a “big-game biologist” through the DEC and that they are studying the layout of the town to understand patterns of deer movement.

It’s possible that certain areas of the town could be opened up to bow hunting, but that would require changes to town ordinances, he said. Denz requested that the board hold a public hearing when the town and the DEC are ready to make a presentation.

“Everything’s in its infancy stages,” he said. “It is going to take several months before I will be able to have a proposal ready for the town.”

Meegan said that resident complaints are coming from all over the town but that there has been no increase in vehicle collisions with deer. “We’re just hoping that thinning of the herds on a yearly basis and maintaining this idea will help with these issues that have really hit hard to so many neighbors,” she said after Monday’s meeting.

The board will likely decide on a plan in about three to four months and after the public hearing, she said.

“We’re not just going to do this overnight,” she said. “It’s going to be a long, thought-out plan.”