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Recent Information Session Says Eastern Mass. has Largest Deer Population in State

Presentation given in Sherborn on deer population and lyme disease in Eastern Massachusetts last week.

Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife deer biologist Sonja Christensen gave a presentation on the white tailed deer population and their relationship with ticks on Thursday in Sherborn.

She explained that 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.

Drew Colby, a bow hunter from Wellesley, said he pulled three deer out of neighboring Dover last year and at the Massachusetts Check-In station, where he is legally bound to bring his deer, they pulled at least 200 ticks off the deer.

Christensen said the state licensed check stations give her department research information on ticks and deer population each year.  

Even though the eastern part of the state is the most settled, “Deer are great at utilizing the human environments,” she said.

Regardless of the more densely populated areas, she said, “There is plenty of habitat out there for them.”

 To keep deer out of your property, she recommends an eight foot wire mesh fence, a dog to annoy the deer, or backyard lighting. She reaffirmed that it is illegal to hire “deer control” outside of hunting season.

Sherborn Open Space Committee member Judy Cohn asked how anyone could regulate hunters while they’re in the woods wandering from property to property.

Christensen said that it would be illegal to do so and that many towns have adopted a rigorous licensing program to allow them to hunt in their town.

She added that hunters who do obey the law regulate each other and inform authorities when they see someone inconsiderate of the boundaries.

In Medfield, a Lyme Disease Committee has been formed and working on a . The plan, according to Christine Kaldy, Chairman of the town's Lyme Disease Study Commission, is as follows:

“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,” said Kaldy. “We will continue and expand education about the means to make tick safe zones on personal property and recreational properties in town.  We will be starting a program to manage the deer population in town by strictly regulated and monitored bow hunting on appropriate state, town and privately held lands.” 

The “controlled hunt” by bow and arrow has proven to be an effective way to decrease a high deer population like that in Medfield, said Sonja Christensen, a deer biologist and project leader with the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife, at a public forum organized by Kaldy in February. The plan was approved by the Board of Selectmen in April. 

Christensen noted that an over-abundance of deer would affect the health of the town forests. The deer eat saplings and shrubbery so quickly that they do not have a chance to replace the older trees. 

Medfield's 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. 

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