The Animal Welfare Institute and Wildlife Preserves, Inc. filed a lawsuit against K. Christopher Soller, superintendent of Fire Island National Seashore (FINS), and the National Park Service (NPS). The complaint alleges that, by implementing a wildlife management plan that authorizes the killing of white-tailed deer on FINS, Soller and the NPS have broken federal law and violated property rights.

According to the complaint, authorizing the killing of deer within FINS by sharpshooting, public hunting, and capture and euthanasia violates the following:

• Deed Restrictions. In June 1955, Wildlife Preserves transferred ownership of multiple areas—known as the WP Tracts—to nonprofit Sunken Forest Preserve, Inc. This “1955 Deed” stated that the WP Tracts must be maintained in their natural state and used as a wildlife sanctuary.

• In 1966, Sunken Forest Preserve transferred the WP Tracts to the NPS for inclusion in the recently established FINS. This “1966 Deed” contained the same deed restrictions as the 1955 Deed, stipulating that these donated properties should “be maintained in their natural state and operated solely as a sanctuary and preserve for the maintenance of wild life, and its natural habitat, undisturbed by hunting or any other activities that might adversely affect the environment or the flora or fauna of said premises.”

• The culling of deer within the WP Tracts and other actions authorized by the NPS’s plan thus violates the deed restrictions. According to the deeds, a violation of this nature triggers an immediate reversion of the WP Tracts to Wildlife Preserves’ ownership.

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