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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.