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Thursday, June 30, 2011

RTM Committees: ‘Control Deer Without Hunting’

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By James Lomuscio

In separate straw votes, three Westport Representative Town Meeting (RTM) subcommittees agreed tonight to recommend to the full legislative body that the town’s deer herd needs to be controlled, but ruled out any lethal means as it voted to uphold the town’s hunting ban.

After eight months of public hearings and debate, the RTM’s Health and Human Services, Public Protection, and Environment Committees voted 9 to 5 that the deer population needed to be controlled. It also voted 13 to 1 to uphold the town’s hunting ban. Richard Lowenstein, District 5, was the only dissenting vote.

While the decision won praise from animal rights activists present, Peter Knight, the lead petitioner who had suggested culling the herd via sharpshooters, called the decisions “ridiculous.’

“I think it’s ridiculous to talk about controlling deer without some form of culling,” Knight said. “How do you reduce the population? You either starve them or you shoot them.”

The committees’ nonlethal approach seemed multi-pronged as Jeff Wieser, who chaired the meeting, suggested getting special state Department of Environmental Protection permits for four-poster systems.

With these systems deer who arrive to eat a corn bait are coated with an insecticide that kills deer ticks responsible for the spread of Lyme Disease.

Also discussed was a procedure described at previous public hearings: air gun-delivered deer birth control.

“We agreed there is a problem, but what can we do?” asked Wieser.

RTM member Steve Rubin said the legislative body could ask the administration to launch a townwide deer education program.

It would alert residents of dangers posed to motorists by deer. It would also educate residents in ways to safeguard themselves from ticks, as well as protect their plantings.

RTM member Amy Ancel, for one, said there were plants homeowners could put in to repel deer.

Michael Rea suggested that a town deer commission or deer warden be put in place so that all of the ideas gleaned from past meetings not fall by the wayside.

“Appointing a commission would give it more substance,” said Rea. “Maybe the administration will say to put it under animal control.

“I am pleased that the RTM took a good part of a year with long and sometimes contentious meetings to study this,” he added. “I think the RTM did it justice, and I am pleased with the outcome.”

The committees’ recommendation will go to the full RTM sometime in August or September.

Posted 06/30 at 03:08 AM

Comments:     Comment Policy

Thanks to the RTM for upholding Westport’s long standing no hunting ban.

Posted by Marcy Puklin on June 30, 2011 at 06:18 PM | #

Yeah for Westport!!!!! 

I’m sure the deer will appreciate starving to death.

Posted by Tim Merrill on June 30, 2011 at 07:37 PM | #

here are a few points to ponder:
1. The deer are adaptive.  That’s why they stick around
2.  Landscapers tell me that the deer are adapting to new items they had not eaten in the past.
3. Every deer you see today, in the same spot next year, you will see three of them.
4. Birth control ideas will only have a marginal effect on the amount of deer in the area.  So the number keeps increasing and you have the same old deer that eat as much as more.
5. We have more deer in the area than in Colonial times.
  I’m reminded of a visit this past Winter to a friend with a 1/2 acre lot in the middle of Westport.  She had 15 deer roaming thru her lot eating everything from 6 ft. to the ground.  Spend money on these silly solutions when the answer is right in front of you.  Dumb..

Posted by john shuck on June 30, 2011 at 07:52 PM | #

Deer are a problem, but shooting guns (or bows and arrows) in a residential community is not the answer.  Dumb.

A few years ago a mother of young children in Maine was killed by a deer hunter while she was hanging her laundry to dry. Back in the day, when duck hunting was legal in Westport below the high water mark at Compo, houses at the beach were routinely sprayed with buck shot.

That’s dumber (and dangerous).

Posted by Philip M Perlah on June 30, 2011 at 08:07 PM | #

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