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You Ask, Patch Answers: How Does Deer Culling Program Work?

In this column, you ask a question and Patch tries to find the answer.

"You Ask, Patch Answers" is where we strive to find answers to all your questions—big, small and in-between—about the town we live and work in.

Whether it’s something you’ve always wondered about, some information you just can’t put your hands on, or a sudden curiosity, we want to hear it.

Send your queries to theresa.knapp@patch.com or leave them in the comments section below, and I will do my best to dig up an answer for you.  

This week a Patch reader asked, "How does the deer culling program work?" 

Last year, was the first year of the Medfield Lyme Disease Study Committee's deer culling program that yielded 27 deer in its pilot program. 

The controlled deer hunt is part of a three-part approach the town is taking to reduce Lyme disease in Medfield where the rate is high.

According to the town's "FAQ for the Medfield 2012 Deer Culling Program:"

When is the season? The season will run Oct. 15 through Dec. 31, 2012.

How is deer reduction linked to Lyme disease? Reducing deer populations has shown to reduce the risk of getting Lyme Disease.  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 incidents of Lyme disease. Conversely, when deer populations have been reduced, Lyme disease has been reduced. The 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 that we reduce the size of the deer herd to the level that the state recommends. 
 
Are hunters going to be walking in my back yard? No. Hunters will be restricted to fixed positions in areas where land owners have agreed to allow hunting. Tree stands will be used so that hunters will be shooting down towards the ground.
 
Can a hunter hunt in my backyard? All hunters must follow MassWildlife rules and regulations, which prohibit the discharge of a bow or arrow within 500 feet of a house unless written permission is obtained from the homeowner. 
 
Will hunters be using guns? No, only bow and arrow hunting is allowed.
 
How are hunters selected?  Hunters were interviewed and approved by Committee members.  All hunters underwent a background check by the Medfield Police Department and have passed a proficiency test.  A limited number of hunters were selected.
 
What if I want someone to hunt on my property?  Contact the Medfield Lyme Disease Study Committee and your parcel of land may be considered for the program.
 
Are land owners or the town liable for accidents? The Massachusetts statute (Chapter 21, Section 17C) 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…”
 
Is hunting permitted seven days a week? No. There is no hunting permitted on Sundays.
 
Was the 2011 Pilot Program for Deer Reduction successful?  The pilot program run by the Committee in 2011 was 100% successful.  The first goal was safety for all Medfield residents.  There were no incidents and the hunters were able to eliminate 29 deer in all.  In addition, the hunters worked in conjunction with the Medfield Police department to dismantle many illegal tree stands used for hunting throughout the town.

Alexander Davis November 14, 2012 at 12:09 AM
Currently we are in the midst of an epidemic of Lyme disease, which can cause crippling arthritis and brain damage. Those most at risk are children. The deer tick infects us not only with Lyme disease but also with diseases such as babesiosis and anaplasmosis, both of which can be fatal. These diseases are also on the rise and spreading. The deer epidemic caused the Lyme epidemic. In 1930 there were 300,000 deer in the US. Today there are 30 million. The Lyme epidemic is unnecessary since we already know how to stop it. The wise residents of Monhegan Island ME and Mumford Cove CT ended their Lyme epidemics by getting rid of the deer. This works because adult egg-laying ticks require a sizeable mammal to feed on and cannot feed on a mouse, for instance. 95% feed on deer. It's estimated that ticks from just one deer can produce up to a million tick eggs per season. These are currently being spread around neighborhoods. Removing the deer disrupts the tick life cycle. Indeed, the tick life cycle has never been successfully sustained, so as to cause a Lyme epidemic, in the absence of deer.

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