06-10-2013 - Meeting Minutes

Fairfield County Deer Management Alliance

Meeting dated June 10, 2013   10:30AM

Wilton Town Hall


In attendance: 

David Streit, Redding

Patricia Sesto, Wilton

Colin Kelly, Westport

Dave Shugarts, Newtown

Tom McGrath, Darien

Laurie McGrath, Darien

Joe Casone, Greenwich



Peter Knight, Westport

Peter Hood, Fairfield


Welcome.  David Streit presided and opened the meeting at 10.30 a.m.  He asked Peter Knight to take the Minutes.


Approval of Minutes.  The Minutes of the March 11, 2013 meeting, having been circulated previously, were approved.


Treasurer’s report Pat Sesto said that expenditures so far for 2013 had been minimal and the balance of the Alliance’s funds was $6,022.  Consequently the call for payment of Towns’ annual dues would continue to be deferred.


Town reports

Darien.  Tom and Laurie McGrath said that they had been trying to persuade the town leaders to take up the issue of homeowners’ rights but with no success.  They were also working with the Green Team that supported efforts to control the deer population.


Newtown.  Dave Shugarts said that the Be Safe program was proving quite successful.  As it involved knocking on homeowners doors, there was constant feedback on the deer issue and a full 70-80% of those contacted were in favor of control measures.  The town’s Health Director had succeeded in getting $ 4,500 into the Town’s budget  for tick borne disease prevention but this did not include deer reduction (Par Sesto confirmed that this was also the case in Wilton).  There was also $2,500 in the budget to allow for disease prevention literature to be placed in doctors’ offices.


Redding.   Dave Streit reported that, as expected, all the hunters on town property had resigned en masse because they opposed the deer reduction effort.  On the issue of Sunday hunting, HB 5412 had been defeated.  With respect to the CDC/Ag Station project, Tony DeNicola of White Buffalo had conducted a sharp shoot on 2 1-square mile areas and had taken 53-54 deer.  (Joe Casone said that the cost for a similar sharp shoot in Greenwich several years ago had been about $600 per deer.  Dave Streit said that the all inclusive cost in Redding was probably a bit higher.)


Wilton.  Pat Sesto said that Howard Kilpatrick of the DEEP had met withthe participants in Wilton’s controlled hunt program.  The bait method had not been effective.  Bait needed to be set out every 2-3 days (not every day) and then left to encourage day time feeding.  Howard was willing to provide training in this area to towns free of charge.


Westport.   Colin Kelly said that the FLIR deer count had taken place and a number of 589 deer spotted giving a density of 26 per square mile.  Although there may have been certain reservations about the flyover accuracy, Colin made the point that it gave a base number against which future counts could be compared. He said that the deer committee’s report was close to completion and would include a call for more accurate deer vehicle accident reporting.

Peter Knight, who was a member of the committee, added that the great majority of the members opposed any attempt to review Westport’s “no hunting” ordinance.  In this regard, he would issue his own minority report but this might be rejected by the committee.  The final report would go the First Selectman in July or August.  As he was not standing for re-election and as the only recommendation of substance was to introduce an immunocontraception (PZP) program, and this on a voluntary basis, Peter felt the report would go nowhere.  Dave Shugarts added some interesting observations on the limitations of the immunocontraception program.


Greenwich.  Joe Casone, who was a biologist with the Conservation Department, said that the Town was working on a questionnaire to try to establish the effects of over browsing on the forest understory.  This complemented the work of the Audubon Society.  He added that he and Denise Savageau were still working on a program for recreational hunting on town property.



Distance sampling/tick counts

Dave Shugarts gave an overview of tick counts noting that these might focus on (i) abundance, that could vary significantly from year to year and (ii) infection rates.  This underscored the need for a commitment to a long term program to obtain meaningful and useful results.  He noted that Kirby Stafford of the Ag station (and recognized worldwide for his work), estimated a 30-39% rate of Lyme infection.  Eva Sappi of the University of New Haven whose tick drags had been subsidized the by Alliance 4-5 years ago found a higher rate of roughly 70%.


The Newtown study is just beginning and the possibility arose that the Alliance might sponsor the work of  Dr. Neeta Connally of Western Connecticut State University. Dave would contact her to discuss – including whether the count might be of nymphs in the Spring or adults in the Fall and the different characteristics of each. 


Joe Casone noted the use of a Sacred Heart graduate student program that could be affordable and effective.  David Streit asked if the Alliance was prepared to commit to a 5-year study with Alliance funds.  Pat Sesto felt that a clearer presentation of what was envisaged with costs and expected results would be needed before a commitment could be given.  To this end, a special meeting might be held in the near future to get the ball rolling.


Articles for the Fall

Dave Shugarts would contact State Farm to ascertain the latest on deer vehicle accident statistics.  Ton and Laurie agreed to compose a letter to go to the press.


Other items

Comment was made that the latest reality show about bow hunting of deer in lower Fairfield County was dreadful.  Those who had seen it described it as “contrived” and “goofy”.

Teresa Gallagher’s draft brochure was thought excellent and Dave Streit will get a quote for printing costs.  At a later date a more detailed brochure with input from Georgina Scholl would be considered.


Public comment

David Streit invited comment from the public but none was forthcoming.


There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned at 11.45 a.m..