Deer Management Program at Audubon Greenwich

Deer Management Program at Audubon Greenwich
Audubon Greenwich

Deer Management Program
at Audubon Greenwich

The effort to reduce the population of white-tailed deer at the Audubon Greenwich sanctuary on Riversville Road successfully completed its first year in the fall and winter of 2003-2004. Deer control continued in the season, 2008-2009 on 4 Audubon properties in Greenwich. Audubon is reducing the deer population in order to restore the biological health of the sanctuary and this year’s effort represents significant progress toward that goal. Working with the Greenwich Sportsmen and Landowner’s Association (GSLA), a total of thirty deer were killed by bowhunters, and none were wounded and unaccounted for.


Audubon’s decision to reduce the deer herd on its 285-acre sanctuary from more than 60 to approximately 5 deer is based on a study that revealed that deer are negatively impacting the forest ecosystem on Audubon land in Greenwich. According to the study by Kenichi Shono, a Masters Degree Candidate at the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, deer are undermining the value of the sanctuary as a biological reserve for plants, birds and animals by consuming more than 60 tons of vegetation each year.

The hunt began November 3, 2003 and concluded January 31, 2004. Sixteen men and women bowhunters spent 347.4 hours during the season, averaging 11.6 hours of hunting for every deer killed. Of the thirty deer killed, twenty-eight were does and two were males (one male was antlerless). All meat from deer harvested on the property, approximately 1,000 pounds, was donated to the Food Bank of Lower Fairfield County.

Reducing deer numbers will ensure the overall health and well being of the deer, and will ensure sustainability of wildflowers, other herbaceous and shrub species, and a full complement of the native forest bird community, and healthy population levels of other wildlife. Currently, deer densities at the sanctuary far exceed the level found to sustain healthy habitat diversity. The hunt will resume in September of this year.

Successful implementation of the deer management plan will result in the maintenance of a healthier ecosystem, reduction of health risks from deer tick-borne diseases, and a decrease in the number of deer/vehicle accidents in the area. Audubon selected bow hunting as the preferred hunting method to minimize safety concerns relating to hunting with rifles and shotguns.

Sixteen members of the Greenwich Sportsmen and Landowner’s Association (GSLA) participated in the deer hunt. The marksmen and women exercised discretion and ethics in taking only shots that were lethal, thus minimizing the risk of wounding or maiming deer. Audubon is grateful for their concern for the ecological health of the sanctuary and for their contribution of time and energy. The GSLA emphasizes training and ethical methods in all of its hunts and requires the 12-hour National Bowhunter Education Foundation course and marksman proficiency testing of all its members, as well as a formal application and interview for membership, before being permitted to hunt on Audubon land.

Audubon Greenwich’s deer management program continued again the hunting season beginning in fall 2003 into winter 2004. It was expanded that year to include not only the 285 Audubon Center but an additional sanctuary property, the 135-acre Fairchild Wildflower Garden a few roads down from the Audubon Center in Greenwich. This season, 2008-9 there are 4 properties from which excess deer will be removed.