Medfield’s Deer Culling Program Set to Begin Oct. 17
The Town of Medfield announced on its website the town’s deer reduction program will begin on Oct. 17 and run through Dec. 31.
A controlled deer hunt is expected to begin in Medfield on Oct. 17 in an effort to reduce the risk of Lyme disease in town and bring the area’s deer population down to the size the state of Massachusetts recommends, according to the Town of Medfield’s website.
“Reducing deer populations has been shown to reduce the risk of getting Lyme disease,” Medfield’s Lyme Disease Study Committee said in a FAQ response on the town’s website. “Lyme disease has been increasing and poses a significant health risk to the residents of Medfield and surrounding towns. Deer are a key part in the life cycle of deer ticks, which carry Lyme disease. Multiple studies have shown a strong link between large deer populations and the incidence of Lyme disease. Conversely, when deer populations have been reduced, Lyme disease has been reduced. The Medfield Board of Selectmen asked the Lyme Disease Study Committee to look into what Medfield can do to further protect the town’s residents. The Committee recommends we reduce the size of the deer herd to the level that the state recommends.”
The Lyme Disease Study Committee’s plan, which was approved by the Board of Selectmen in April, calls for a controlled deer hunt by bow and arrow beginning on Oct. 17 and ending on Dec. 31. Hunting will be prohibited on Sundays throughout that time period.
The hunt, according to the Lyme Disease Study Committee, will be restricted to “fixed positions in areas where land owners have agreed to allow hunting.” Hunters will use tree stands so they are shooting down, towards the ground. There will be no use of firearms during these hunts and hunters will be required to follow MassWildlife rules and regulations, which prohibits the discharge of a bow and arrow within 500 feet of a house without written permission from the homeowner.
Hunters, according to the Lyme Disease Study Committee, were interviewed and approved by committee members after a detailed application process.
“All hunters underwent a background check by the Medfield Police Department and passed a proficiency test,” the committee said. “A limited number of hunters were selected.”
Medfield residents who wish to have someone hunt on their property are asked to contact the Medfield Lyme Disease Study Committee and the parcel of land will be considered for the program. Landowners are protected from liability for “hunting accidents’ under the Massachusetts statute, Chapter 21, Section 17C, which states:
“[Protects landowners from liability for] “personal injuries or property damage sustained by such members of the public” when they permit the public to use their land for “recreational, conservation, scientific, educational, environmental, ecological, research, religious, or charitable purposes without imposing a charge or fee...”
Sonja Christensen, a deer biologist and project leader with the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife told the Medfield Board of Selectmen during a presentation in February that The “controlled hunt” by bow and arrow has proven to be an effective way to decrease a high deer population like that in Medfield. Christensen said that successful culls have also taken place in neighboring Dover as well as Acton, Andover, Boxborough, Braintree, Brewster, Concord, Duxbury, Lincoln, Marshfield, Stow, Sudbury, and Wilbraham.
“From a biological perspective, what we can say is – decreased deer equals decreased tick population equals decreased risk of infection,” she said.
During a presentation in Sherborn in May, Christensen said eastern Massachusetts has one of the largest populations for deer in the state.
“We have a lot of deer in eastern Massachusetts. More than we’d like,” Christensen said. Last year, she added, 1,800 deer were harvested, which was the most in the state.
In addition to the controlled hunt, Chris Kaldy, the Lyme Disease Study Committee chair, said they will also provide tips and materials to better educate residents on how to protect themselves from Lyme disease.
“We will continue and expand our educational efforts on how to protect oneself from ticks and tick bites as well as on how to recognize lyme disease,” Kaldy told Medfield Patch in April. “We will continue and expand education about the means to make tick safe zones on personal property and recreational properties in town.”
- Town of Medfield Lyme Disease Committee Deer Hunting Regulations, 2011
- Outline of plan to reduce Lyme disease in Medfield presented by the Lyme Disease Study Committee to the Board of Selectmen in April
- Bow hunting application to hunt in Medfield
The Lyme Disease Study was appointed by the Board of Selectmen in July 2010 to learn the best way to reduce the incidents of Lyme disease and to make a recommendation to the Board of Selectmen. For more information, contact the selectmen’s office at (508) 359-8505 ext 641.