A Facebook group calling for the boycott of wine from the North Fork has amassed 1,628 members since it was created in response to plans for a cull of the East End deer population.
The cull, which is taking place on private lands, is sponsored by the Long Island Farm Bureau and being carried out by U.S. Department of Agriculture sharpshooters. The precise locations where the USDA is hunting deer at night have not been publicized, but deer damage permits have been issued in the towns of Southampton, Southold and East Hampton. Scott Russell, the supervisor of Southold Town, which contributed $25,000 toward the cull, said that the locations will not be publicized in the interest of safety and also in order to prevent protestor disruptions. However, deer cull opponents have said the privacy is typical of a veil of secrecy that have been confronted by while trying to get any information about the cull.
Now the Facebook group Boycott Southold Wine is seeking volunteers to figure out which farms may be allowing the USDA on their lands, in order to boycott those specific farms.
Wendy Chamberlain, the leader of the The Wildlife Preservation Coalition of Eastern Long Island, said the boycott was not started by her group or personally suggested by her, but it naturally came to fruition from the ongoing fight against the cull.
She said the USDA puts the interests of ranchers and farmers in front of everyone else’s and ignores humane alternatives to a cull.
“The USDA is a heinous group renowned across the nation primarily for being guns for hire to kill wildlife,” Chamberlain said. “They’ve done more harm than good.”
“We want to work with farmers that are resourceful and adaptive and forward thinking,” she went on to say. “Not farmers that think they are the most important people in the world and nothing matters except for what they do. Farming is certainly important, but … not when it comes at the expense of everything else.”
Bill Crain, the president of the East Hampton Group for Wildlife, said that any farmers who are opposed to the cull should come out and say so.
He acknowledged that deer pose a problem for farmers, but said there are alternatives to a cull.
“They’re an innocent species; they’re just trying to live like humans are trying to live,” Crain said, later adding, “To just slaughter them—it just shouldn’t happen in enlightened society.”