Despite a challenging hunting season with a warmer winter and late rut, 27 deer were culled in an “effective” first year of Medfield's deer culling program, according to Chris Kaldy, chairman of Medfield's Lyme Disease Study Committee.
"We had no incidents or safety issues and culled 27 deer, a rate of almost one deer per hunter," Kaldy said. "The warmer weather was a negative rather than a positive factor on the hunting season. The deer weren’t moving, the rut (mating season) was late and the leaves were slow to drop."
The controlled deer hunt is part of a three-part approach the town is taking, as recommended by the Lyme Disease Study Committee, to reduce Lyme disease in Medfield. The success of the pilot program and overall positive response around town regarding its effort and cause, has given the Lyme Disease Study Committee reason to recommend the town participate in the hunt next fall.
"We will be recommending the program continue next year," Kaldy said. "It is one part of our three-part approach to reducing Lyme disease in town – personal prevention, property protection and reduction of deer."
In addition to the controlled hunt, the Lyme Disease Study Committee also provides 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.”
The hunting season, which ran from Oct. 17 to Dec. 31, was "very successful," according to Kaldy, as the number of deer culled in _ to 27 at the end of the season. That number is higher than the results Dover has seen from its deer culling program. In 2011, Dover culled 16 deer, down from the 19 it culled in 2010, according to Benjamin Paulin, Local Editor of _Dover-Sherborn Patch_.
"I feel the season was very successful," Kaldy said. "I believe we have a solid group of archery hunters who did very well, especially considering this was a difficult hunting season with the warm weather and few acorns. In addition, both committee members and hunters were thanked by many Medfield residents for making this effort to reduce the deer herd. Also, others called us to report deer in their backyards, so the overall response was positive."
Kaldy said while the first year of the program was effective, the Lyme Disease Study Committee "will assess" the deer culling program later this month and determine if any changes to the program will be recommended for year two.
In addition to the pilot program's success, Kaldy said two things stood out this hunting season.
"First, we were surprised to find a number of tree stands placed illegally around town, which we tagged with notices to be removed," Kaldy said. "Since we eliminated these illegal stands and hunters, the only hunting occurring on town or The Trustees Of Reservations land was through our strictly regulated and controlled program. So, we believe the program contributed toward making the town safer. Second, hunters are natural stewards of the land and so their addition to our town’s open spaces helps in taking proper care of these properties."
The parcels around town hunted this season were Noon Hill, Medfield Rhododendrons and sections of . Various town-owned parcels were also selected for the program. Kaldy thanked the Trustees of Reservations for helping make the program successful in its first year.
"Thanks to The Trustees of Reservations and their interest in managing the deer herd on their properties, we had access to enough land in town to make the program possible," Kaldy said.
More About the Town's Lyme Disease Study Committee
Medfield's Lyme Disease Study Committee, formed in 2010, had been given the task of addressing the issue of Lyme disease in town and finding the best solutions to reduce the risks. After reviewing how towns in the surrounding area have handled similar situations and consulting several studies on Lyme disease's relation to deer population, the committee presented the deer culling program to the Board of Selectmen, which approved the proposal in April.
The program was, according to the committee, bow and arrow only, and was restricted to “fixed positions in areas where land owners have agreed to allow hunting.” Hunters used tree stands so they were shooting down, towards the ground. There was no use of firearms during these hunts and hunters were 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.
Kaldy said of the nearly 30 hunters from Medfield and surrounding towns participating in the two-month program, no incidents or safety issues were reported.
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