Bethel

 

Ron Maxwell


Bethel Alliance representative:  Ron Maxwell, email ronald_l_maxwell@sbcglobal.net

The latest CT DEP aerial deer survey completed in January 2009, shows that Bethel has 69.6 deer per sq mile. This is over 6 times the healthy sustainable level of 10 to 12 deer per sq mile.

In fall 2007 and 2009 Bethel took part in the 14 town county-wide tick study being performed by the Alliance with University of New Haven. Deer ticks were counted at sites across town and analyzed for the presence of borellia bacteria in an attempt to raise public awareness of the growing problems that ticks and deer pose.

Public awareness of the severity of the deer problem:

Information is passed to the public through the following channels:

The new DEP publication, Managing Urban Deer in Connecticut is a valuable source of data on all aspects of deer- from vehicle accidents, tick spread diseases and woodland and private property damage. Options for reducing deer populations are given and examples of how different local towns are approaching the problems. In Bethel it is available at the Bethel Health Department in Town Hall.

BETHEL CONTROLLED DEER HUNT

The town of Bethel has long recognized the need to keep the whitetail deer herd healthy and under control through harvesting of excess animals.  For the last 20 years or so the town of Bethel has offered two controlled deer hunts.  The hunts are conducted according to all CT state applicable regulations.  These hunts are administrated by the local Bethel Fish and Game Association and are subject to yearly approval by the  town  selectmen.  The hunts take place on two large parcels of town land known as TerreHaute (440 acres) and Chestnut (159 acres) both of which are highly forested.  

The purpose of the hunt has been:   

  1. To help maintain the balance of the deer herd in the area.
  2. To reduce property damage due to the abundance of deer, the decrease of habitat in Bethel and the lack of harvesting.
  3. To reduce the number of motor vehicle accidents caused by the overpopulation of deer.
  4. To reduce the number of deer lost to starvation over a harsh winter season.
  5. To give the hunting residents of Bethel the opportunity to use town land.
  6. To provide meat for the table.   

 

These hunts have proven successful.  Results have been tracked since 1989.  The harvest varies, but is usually in the range of 10 – 20 animals.  This may not seem like a lot, but combined with bowhunting on private land many deer are harvested in Bethel.  Bethel has good access to small tracts of private land and there are plenty of hunters.  Moreover, a good share of the landowners are knowledgeable about the deer overpopulation and its ecological ramifications.  We welcome any suggestions.

PRIVATE HUNTING IN BETHEL

Landowners in Bethel who recognize that control of deer is important to the well being of their families and community have the opportunity to engage volunteer bow hunters on their properties. Homeowners should make arrangements directly with a hunter; a list of local hunters is available at the office of the Town Clerk.  Any questions may be addressed to betheldeerhunt@yahoo.com. 

BETHEL HEALTH DEPARTMENT

The town health department is represented by Director Laura Vasile on the regional HVCEO Tick Bourne Illness Prevention Task Force. Laura Vasile attended the presentations given by Dr Sam Telford lll Sc.D. on the role of deer population control in tick borne disease prevention at Danbury Hospital and Newtown Public Library recently. The Bethel Health Dept is a resource for information on Lyme prevention. Flyers and brochures from CDC, DEP and DPH are available. Bethel took part in the third year of the regional tick infection rate study.

WHAT MORE COULD BE DONE?

The Alliance strongly encourages towns suffering from the effects of deer overpoulation to enlist the free help and advice of the CT DEP on how to effectively reduce nuisance deer numbers. DEP simply require an official letter from the town asking for their advice. The Towns of Redding and Brookfield are currently working with the DEP to come up with affordable, safe and humane solutions to deer overpopulation in their residential areas in order to reduce their deer-vehicle accident rates, high number of tick borne illnesses and environmental destruction by excess deer. Any proposal by the DEP is obviously subject to approval by the town.