SOUTHAMPTON, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — First, federal sharpshooters took aim at Long Island’s ever-growing deer population. But that failed amid protests and lawsuits.

Now there’s a new “game” plan.

As CBS2’s Carolyn Gusoff reported, Southampton officials, looking for common ground between hunters and animal loves, have created a new proposal to thin the herd of tens of thousands of deer.

The plan would open more land for hunting, but also use deer contraceptives — shot by dart guns or ingested — to prevent pregnancy.

“There’s not one silver bullet — no pun intended — here, but it’s a plan that covers a lot of ground,” said Southampton Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst.

The proposal is less expensive than nearby East Hampton village’s plan to surgically spay does at a cost of $1,000 each.

Southampton’s proposal would also use bait stations to spray deer with tick repellent and warning lights that would detect when deer are approaching roads.

“Seems almost too good to be true, but apparently they work quite well. They’re inexpensive,” Throne-Holst said.

It’s considered kinder and gentler than the controversial sharpshooter cull, which animal rights groups called inhumane slaughter.

“It digusted me,” said Ginnie Frati of the Wildlife Rescue Center. “I spent many sleepless nights last winter.”

Even hunters say they’re game — if the new plan preserves their rights, too.

“We don’t need to shoot every deer,” said Michael Tessitore, president of Hunters for Deer. “We just need to target the areas where deer are coming into conflict with humans.”

Elected leaders are pitching their plan to other nearby mayors and supervisors because deer don’t stay within town lines. A solution must be regional, they say.

The federal sharpshooters killed only 192 deer on Long Island this year out of an estimated 35,000.

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