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Thursday, December 06, 2012

Finance Board Approves $6K for Infrared Deer Survey

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It took 50 minutes of discussion, but the Westport Board of Finance tonight approved by a 4 to 3 vote a $6,100 request to conduct an aerial infrared radar survey of Westport’s deer population.

WestportNow.com Image
Susan Pike, chair of the Deer Management Committee, tonight explains to the Board of Finance why an infrared radar survey of Westport’s deer population is needed. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

The Deer Management Committee, appointed by First Selectman Gordon Joseloff at the request of the Representative Town Meeting, said the survey would help determine if Westport had a deer problem, where they were, and set a benchmark to measure the success of any deer control measures.

“It is cost effective,” said Susan Pike, chair of the committee which has been meeting weekly on the issue since February.

While the four Republican members approved the request saying the money was well spent, the three Democrats were against. Helen Garten, vice chair, said the committee’s recommendations on deer control and education could be implemented without a survey.

“All the great things that were in your report in terms of education, community outreach on issues such as Lyme Disease, car interaction with deer, how to protect your property, these are things I presume we’re gonna want to pursue whether the count is 30 per, or 60 or 90 (per square acre),” Garten said.

She also took issue with the committee’s report stating the aerial survey would be about 85 percent accurate.

“I don’t consider that extremely accurate and you also suggest there may be some other less costly ways to estimate the deer population,” Garten said.

Committee member Alan Eugley responded that while the count might not be totally accurate, “It is the most accurate that we know.”

WestportNow.com Image
Deer Management Committee member Ben Deipolyi addresses the Finance Board. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

He added, “What I really think it would provide, though, is a consistent measure, and I would expect that we would come back in one or two years and ask you again.

“And then I think we would have something really valuable because I think there would be a different tone or feeling in the town if we really had pretty hard evidence that the deer population is growing, or that it was stable, or it was declining.”

Tom Lasersohn, Board of Finance member, said the feature he liked about the survey was that it would be able to determine in which areas of town the deer are concentrated.

“I think the most valuable thing about this survey would be mapping the population to locale because if you hold on to an elephant’s trunk you have one view, if you hold the body, it’s another,” he said.

“For those people who live in an area where there is a high deer population, it may explain why their perspective is different than other people’s who live in an area where there is no population.”

He said he sees the same 10 deer in his backyard every day.

Pike said the survey would be conducted by Vision Air Research, Inc. of Boise, Idaho in January or February.

Posted 12/06 at 03:37 AM

Comments:     Comment Policy

It’s not a huge amount of money and I guess it would help to get a baseline.

It does kind of seem like an expenditure to find out the obvious.

I think it’s pretty obvious there are a lot of deer around.

Posted by John Harder on December 06, 2012 at 05:38 PM | #

Totally agree with John Harder.

I think this is a complete waste of tax money to state the obvious.

I just have to walk outside any given day and provide a free count. A nice family of deer thinks our yard is their buffet bar daily.

This is all from over building and killing off their predators that is all part of nature.

Posted by Norma Waski on December 06, 2012 at 09:20 PM | #

Why did we vote for the $6,000? We don’t want to be penny smart and pound foolish.

From a financial perspective, the density and location are important since the town can decide what to do about it in a cost effective manner.

If the density is relatively low, we may not want to spend the money for any project. If the density is high, the town can target the money as needed only in certain high density locations. (e.g., signage, lyme disease prevention)

We can also assess the effectiveness of any project (if done at all) since we’ll have a benchmark to work off of.

Finally, the deer committee unanimously asked for this after working for a year - they did the research and requested it. They did not agree on other matters but did agree on the need for this benchmark. Their “expertise” on deer is clearly greater than ours.

Avi Kaner
Chairman, Board of Finance

Posted by Avi Kaner on December 06, 2012 at 10:20 PM | #

Location??  the deer have legs..they move around
Signage??  reminds me of the person who complained about the deer crossing the road and she suggested that they move the “deer crossing” sign.  Experts say we have more deer per acre than in Colonial times.  Wilton just moved to solve the problem and it didn’t involve spending $6000 to have aircraft count deer.

Posted by john shuck on December 06, 2012 at 11:51 PM | #

Avi are you telling me that any committee that works for a year and asks for something should get it???? 

Ms. Garten is right, everything could be done on the list without knowing specifically where the deer are. But to help out, I have 4 in my backyard all the time. One has a nice rack, not sure that could be seen from the air.

Since the amount requested is less than $20K it does not come to the RTM for approval. But if it did, the debate would have been interesting.

Posted by Matthew Mandell on December 07, 2012 at 02:19 PM | #

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