12-12-2011 - Meeting Minutes

 

Fairfield County Deer Management Alliance

Meeting dated December 12, 2011

Wilton Town Hall

Minutes

 

In attendance: 

David Streit, President, Redding

Teresa Gallagher, Shelton

Erin McKenna, Stamford

Denise Savageau, Greenwich

Tom McGrath, Darien

Laurie McGrath, Darien

Russell Cornelius, Brookfield

Dave Shugarts, Newtown

Colin Kelly, Westport

Peter Knight, Westport

Patricia Sesto, Wilton

Landon Storrs, Southport

 

Anti’s

Art Gorfunkle, Redding

Peter Hood, Fairfield

Both refused to identify themselves

 

The meeting was opened at 10.30 a.m. by David Streit, President.

 

Approval of Minutes.  The Minutes of the meeting of  June 13, 2011 having been circulated previously were approved unanimously.

 

Welcome  The President welcomed the representatives of the various towns who introduced themselves.

 

Treasurer’s report Pat Sesto circulated the financial statement for the period April 1, 2007 through October 31, 2011 that reflected dues collected, expenditures and a cash balance at October 31, 2011 of $ 5,996.20.  The report was accepted unanimously.

 

Town reports

Greenwich.  Denise Savageau said that the number of reported deer sighting had increased significantly and the deer were moving into urban areas increasingly.  This was reflected in the number of deer vehicle accidents.  The Town’s exclosure experiments were ongoing and showed the extent of browsing that was still injurious.  Greenwich hoped to organize a “spotlight survey” to help assess numbers.  David Streit noted that 5 towns had asked the DEEP for assistance in conducting a deer management plan – would Greenwich do this?   Denise replied in the affirmative noting that they had already received a lot of assistance from Howard Kilpatrick.  In general, the larger neighborhood associations already supported hunting. The North East association covered half the area of Greenwich and therefore the DEEP was not needed.  However, in general, harvest numbers were low because there were not enough hunters.  Greenwich conducted a sharpshooting cull 7 years ago and would like to repeat the effort every 5-6 years.  Denise circulated a copy of “Connecticut Woodlands” the magazine of the Connecticut Forest and Park Association that, among other things, advocated Sunday hunting on private land – a first.

 

Stamford -  Erin McKenna said that there was still no town deer management plan but the Bartlett Arboretum had taken steps to protect their property.

 

Shelton - similarly, there was no management plan in place according to Teresa Gallagher.  However, steps had been taken to heighten awareness during 2011.

 

Redding – had a goal of restoring the population to 10-12 per square mile that, if achieved, would significantly cut the incidence of Lyme disease.  The town hunters were members of a private hunting club with a significant number of out-of-towners.  They did not support the town goal or the objective that included targeting does.  Howard Kilpatrick’s presentation in Redding was well done and well received.

 

Wilton – planned a controlled hunt on public land.  According to Pat Sesto, the strategy was to match hunters to private landowners. They relied on recreational hunters to implement the program and one deer a day was not enough.  (David Streit commented that in Redding increased numbers of engorged tick sightings had been noted.)

 

Darien – Kent Haydock reported that over the past 6 years a strong anti-hunting lobby had arisen.  A planned controlled hunt had been cancelled in part because of liability issues and also activists had let loose dogs on the day of the hunt.  States such as Illinois and New Jersey had passed laws that made interference with a planned and properly authorized hunt illegal.  A survey of 400 homeowners were asked if they would oppose an organized hint on a large open tract of land and only 10% said “No”.   Kent hoped that the DEEP would contribute to a plan for Darien.

 

Westport – Colin Kelly reported that, after a year of hearings, the RTM had recommended the formation of a committee upon which the First Selectman had so far taken no action.  Peter Knight added that the RTM opposed repeal of Westport’s “no hunting” ordinance but supported a deer management program.  The Town attorney had opined that any form of controlled hunt was “hunting” for the purposes of the statute.  Peter felt this could be challenged and also said he would continue his efforts to have the First Selectman take action.

 

Newtown and Redding – Dave Shugarts said that the deer committee had presented its report to the First Selectman.  The committee had been split but the majority favored control and seeking assistance from the DEEP for a plan.  In Redding, Howard Kilpatrick had given a 40 minute presentation in response to the Town’s (Natalie Ketcham, First Selectman) request for a DEEP management plan.  Two surveys had been taken of hunters and landowners.  It was suggested that hunters could, and were willing, to take more deer.  Cross bows were more effective and it was suggested that the rules governing cross bow use be eased.   DEEP was trying to establish deer numbers in Redding – not just Fairfield County as a whole.  They had conducted a “spotlight” survey and found quite low deer to faun ratio (0.49).  They felt the population remained at close to 2000 deer and to achieve the 10-12 per sq. mile goal, much was needed.  The audience at the meeting had been predominantly hunters and there was a clear reluctance to take does that would lead to a decline in the population.  Landowners overwhelmingly supported control and the only real issue was safety.

 

Brookfield – Russ Cornelius said that he had become involved with the deer issue only since 2008 but he had been following the Lyme disease situation since 2003.  He affirmed that the classic measure of tucking pant legs into socks to avoid tick bites had no effect but he felt strongly that children and educators should receive training about the prevalence and dangers of ticks.  In Brookfield, the First Selectman was amenable to allowing hunting on town property – they had used the Greenwich Audubon Society as a model.  They were working with the Conservation Commission and hoped to enlist the support of the DEEP to develop a plan although as yet the DEEP's response had been minimal.  Russ noted that Brookfield is a small town but the police and Conservation Commission statistics were persuasive.

 

PR efforts.  David Streit raised the question whether as a group the Alliance had succeeded with its PR and awareness efforts.  There was a strong sentiment that the meetings themselves and exchange of ideas among the town representatives were very beneficial.  Denise said that more needed to be done in the area of forest management.  Kent exhorted representatives to keep the newspaper article contributions going.  Denise also felt that a short fact sheet summarizing the tick/deer problem would be useful.  In support of this, Teresa mentioned that trail maps in Shelton were very popular and supplies were quickly exhausted.  David circulated a rough draft of a letter he suggested be sent to the DEEP urgently requesting regulatory relief from restrictions that protect deer at the expense of humans and asked for feedback.  Some immediate comments referred to the issue of sale of venison and Sunday hunting on public land.  The Connecticut food banks and the “Hunt to Feed” movement should also be promoted.  There was also a question whether towns would approve advertising by the Alliance using town (dues) funds.

 

Future meetings and Plans.  David Streit enquired whether 1/4ly meeting s going forward were considered appropriate.  This was agreed and they would occur on the 2nd Monday of each quarter except for March, viz.:

 

2012

March 19

June 11

September 10

December 10

 

There being no further business, on motion duly made and seconded, the meeting was adjourned.

 

Peter Knight