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Deer Lady of Cheektowaga and the DEC

'Deer lady' wants to tackle issue in Albany

By BARBARA O'BRIEN
News Staff Reporter
6/20/2004

Next stop, Albany?

She's been to the Cheektowaga Town Board, Cheektowaga Town Court and the Erie County Holding Center. Now Anita Depczynski of Cheektowaga has her sights set on Albany.

The woman who was sentenced to 15 days in jail for feeding the deer in Stiglmeier Park says she wants to tackle the issue on a statewide level.

"If we've got too many animals, let's do something about it," she said, adding that she wants to see Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver.

Depczynski, known as "the deer lady," contends that it would be cruel to stop feeding the deer in Stiglmeier Park because they have been fed by humans for many years. She would like to see oral contraceptives given to deer to reduce their numbers.

Depczynski said she has been contacted by many people offering their support, some wanting to pack the courtroom to show solidarity with her. She turned them down. People send her money and she mails it back to them, she said.

Her cause has attracted the support of Wildlife Watch, an organization based in New Paltz.

"When we heard what was going on, it tied in with situations that are all too familiar to us," said James Van Alstine of Wildlife Watch, who attended Depczynski's sentencing before Cheektowaga Justice Ronald E. Kmiotek last on Tuesday.

Depczynski was taken to the holding center and released the same day, pending an appeal of her conviction.

Van Alstine blames DEC "over-regulation" for the promulgation of the regulation prohibiting the feeding of white-tailed deer. But the DEC maintains that the nature of the fatal chronic wasting disease requires extraordinary measures to address the threat it poses to deer.

"If it happened in Cheektowaga, in can and probably will happen elsewhere," Van Alstine said of the charges.

It already has. West Seneca Town Justice Wallace Piotrowski gave Donna Gasiewicz, of West Seneca, a one-year adjournment in contemplation of dismissal in April for feeding deer in her yard. Two cases from Stiglmeier Park have come before Cheektowaga Town Justice Thomas S. Kolbert. He gave Joseph Iwaniszek a six-month adjournment in contemplation of dismissal, and a case against Robert Hartman is still pending, according to court records.

e-mail: bobrien@buffnews.com  

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