Fairfield County Deer Management Alliance
Meeting dated December 9, 2013
Wilton Town Hall
David Streit, Redding
Patricia Sesto, Wilton
Colin Kelly, Westport
Tom McGrath, Darien
Laurie McGrath, Darien
Joe Cassone, Greenwich
Peter Knight, Westport
Peter Hood, Fairfield
Welcome. David Streit presided and opened the meeting at 10.45 a.m. He asked Peter Knight to take the Minutes.
Approval of Minutes. The Minutes of the September 9, 2013 meeting, having been circulated previously, were approved.
Treasurer’s report Pat Sesto said that expenditures for 2013 had totaled $362, primarily for the PO Box and the website. This left a balance on the account of $5,495. Requests for payment of Town dues had not been sent out since 2011 because there had been no need.
Darien. Laurie McGrath reported that they were close to holding a meeting to which they hoped to attract interested members of the Darien public. The aim was to brainstorm, to try to develop a core group of supporters and to establish the degree of interest each expressed. They would show the movie “Under Our Skin” at the Darien library with the assistance of Russ Cornelius.
Wilton. Pat Sesto reported that this year’s controlled hunt on the water company property was under way. The DEEP would keep a tally of all types of weapons used as well as the harvest. In addition, 30 new homeowners had signed up this year for hunters on private property. It was hard to assess total hunters engaged because they might or might not repeat from year to year and the Town had no control over that. Pat said that Wilton’s total of deer taken was less than that of Ridgefield or Redding but still ranked high in Fairfield County. The deer committee had invited Dr. Howard Kilpatrick of DEEP to help orientate hunters, especially in the use of bait and bait machines. The machines were used to time release of the corn to “train” the deer to feed at hours of the day conducive to the hunter’s schedule. A 50 lb. bag of corn cost $14 – David Streit said he could get it for $8. Joe Cassone mentioned that some old school hunters rejected the use of bait as it compromised the “purity” of the hunt. DEEP encouraged the use of crossbows as being highly effective, albeit costly.
David Streit commented that those the town was relying on to hunt in Redding were frustrated by what appears to be a reduction in deer. This is causing them to have to hunt longer to harvest a deer. “Bowhunter.org” Frequently has comments from those that have hunted in the Redding program for years. The commonly complain on these forums that the BeSafeRedding.org and now the BeSafeNewtown.org programs are adversely impacting the size of the herd. He also noted that, in the study under way in Redding (Dr.Kirby Stafford), the sharp shoot contribution by White Buffalo had been outstanding and very well managed. Redding received funding for a a 3 year grant to study the impact of deer as it relates to ticks, the understory and different means of prevention. Kirby Stafford will be giving an update on the progress of the study in Redding tomorrow (12/10).
David also commented on the success of the BeSafeNewtown.org program had been working well. There had been misinformation put about, for example, that a hunter had to show that he could take 20 deer per annum in order to qualify – this was unfounded.
Reflecting on Redding’s progress, David Streit said that, in contrast to Wilton, reliance on the town’s political leaders had proved unproductive. Their success had been driven by private initiative (“Be Safe Redding”) but it was now such that hunters avoided Redding for lack of opportunity.
Westport. Colin Kelly reported that the Town now had a new First Selectman who had asked Colin to continue as the representative to the Alliance, at least for the time being. The committee appointed by the previous First Selectman had produced its report but this had not yet been publicized. Peter Knight, a committee member, said that he had resigned because the committee had refused to include his minority opinion that expressed his disagreement with the majority’s recommendation of a contraception program. He also mentioned that he had recently met with Pat Sesto to get a fuller picture of Wilton’s program and commended their website as a valuable point of reference for other towns.
Greenwich. Joe Cassone noted that the Audubon Society was carrying out controlled archery hunts on their land with a closely screened group of hunters. The land steward was well organized and tracked tree stands by GPS. Pat Sesto noted that stands could be efficiently managed by providing each hunter with a number for the tree stand so that if there were an issue, it was easy to take steps to solve it by identifying the hunter involved. Joe mentioned the difficulty of approving hunters, especially as the local police force was not necessarily familiar with hunting laws. Pat and David said that, with well constructed questions, it was relatively easy to weed out hunters that might not be appropriate.
It was agreed that continuing efforts would be made most especially in the area of public education. Submission of articles to local newspapers was encouraged. David Streit consented, to general acclaim, to stay on as President of the Alliance for a further year.
The dates set for 2014 meetings were:
There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned at 11.45 a.m..