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Thread: For problem deer, think venison

  1. #1
    Super Moderator/ CTHS Supportor BigOutdoors's Avatar
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    Oct 2007

    For problem deer, think venison

    For problem deer, think venison

    I'm not going to cry a tear for suburban homeowners who pay through the nose every year for new landscape plantings that are destined to become salad bars for white-tail deer.

    It's the price you pay for those multiple acres, I figure.

    And what do you call someone who does the same stupid thing over and over again expecting a different result? No, it's not "Westporter." But what about the thousands of people who suffer from the crippling, confounding effects of Lyme disease?

    Should we turn our backs on a way to stop the spread of the disease?

    How about the dead deer carcasses that litter the roadways after causing millions of dollars in damage to motor vehicles throughout southwestern Connecticut?

    Wouldn't those poor beasts be more productive filling food pantries as tasty, low-fat venison?

    The Darien-based Friends of Animals think contraception is the humane alternative and I respect their opinion. I would even buy into it if it were cost-effective and could be given to does in an efficient way. But I'm not persuaded.

    If you're going to pay people to sneak around with dart guns to administer drugs that are good for only a couple years, you might as well let them use bow and arrows, or better yet shotguns, according to the hunters, and have a butchering program to make it easier to donate venison to food banks.

    I really like this study that was released last week by two researchers at the New York Medical College, about the alleged actual cost that deer proliferation means to Fairfield County residents.

    I don't believe too much in their empirical results, especially the landscaping costs that were extrapolated from a mail-in questionnaire in a New Jersey county.

    Peter Arno, a Ph.D. who is a professor in the college's Department of Health Policy and Management, who co-authored the study, told me last week that the New Jersey information was adjusted to Fairfield County's town-by-town population.

    "We tried to make it reasonably conservative," Arno said in an interview.

    As a semi-propaganda tool, it gets its point across and provokes the necessary argument.

    Here are some of their numbers. Average out-of-pocket cost per resident of Fairfield County: $203 a year. Per family: nearly $900. Landscape replacement: $124 million. Motor vehicle damage: nearly $9 million. Tick control: $27 million. Tick-borne disease: $19 million.

    If I were a nursery owner, or a body-shop guy, and weren't infected with Lyme disease, I'd do everything possible to keep the status quo. There are some serious bucks to be made out there.

    I would also drive an old beater of a pickup truck with a big old front grill/deer catcher. And I'd really have to buy a freezer and learn how to field dress road kill to green up my hypocritical lifestyle.

    Many parts of Fairfield County have 60 deer or more per square mile. Heck, during a recent trip to Silver Sands State Park in Milford, we saw a little herd of 50 or so just hanging around near the parking lot.

    Public health experts believe if you can get those down to maybe a dozen per square mile, the deer ticks that carry Lyme disease will collapse.

    Without cars and, yeah, hunters, deer can live 8 to 20 years. Does can have two fawns a year. That brings us back to their imperative need to chew up hostas, day lilies and nearly anything else in your backyard.

    Howard Kilpatrick, a wildlife biologist with the state Department of Environmental Protection, agrees that there's a scientific problem using the New Jersey data.

    But the study's sponsors, the Fairfield County Deer Management Alliance, the Connecticut Coalition to End Lyme Disease (CCELD) and the Connecticut Audubon Society, have a tool to take their case to the next level and seek better Connecticut information.

    "Extrapolation raises everyone's attention toward this issue, but really you have to conduct a study here in Connecticut," he said. How does Kilpatrick feel about expanded hunting?

    "If you remove an adult doe through hunting, there are three fewer next year: the doe and two fawns. The problem with contraception is you are treating that doe, making her infertile for a couple years and she's still crossing roads, eating plants and carrying deer ticks. Fertility control is probably a feasible solution for small, isolated herds that are approachable by people, but for a statewide population it's an astronomical feat."

    There should be a widespread public debate on the issue and local votes.

    There must be a certain percentage of suburbanites who'd rather buy more greenery every spring than listen to the sounds of shotguns going off in the early morning and early evening, when deer are most vulnerable.

    Indeed, I can predict someone saying that if they wanted to hear the sound of regular gunfire, they would have moved into Bridgeport or New Haven.

    Bob Crook, president of the Coalition of Connecticut Sportsmen and editor of its occasional journal Hook 'n' Bullet, the bible of Bambi blasters, said the new study makes the deer overpopulation problem very plain.

    The next step is for towns and cities to stage so-called controlled deer hunting. Crook says that while bow hunters are quiet and all, they have to get very close to the deer.

    "Bow hunting is very, very difficult," said Crook, who is the Capitol lobbyist for the group. "Shotgun is still short range, but the range is longer than the bow and certainly far more efficient. I'd say it's 10-to-1 more effective than bow hunting." Crook said that towns like Greenwich can afford to pay $300 or so per deer when groups like White Buffalo come in with silencers and night-vision scopes.

    But allowing licensed state hunters to visit towns and harvest as many deer as they can bring down makes more sense.

    In recent years Crook has tried unsuccessfully to persuade the General Assembly to kick in a measly $25,000 -- $50 per deer -- to help pay for butchering and packaging of deer for delivery to food banks.

    "If the hunter has to pay for it, that's 65 to 80 bucks out of their pocket," Crook said. "If the state paid $50, which I think could be done, that's a helluva lot of deer that could be butchered. A lot of hunters shoot six, seven deer a year and they don't know what to do with that meat. And many don't realize what they donate they can write off with their taxes."

    David Streit of Redding, chairman of the CCELD, said that last year a hunting program brought down 330 deer in his town.

    "I am visiting homes every day where people's lives have been devastated by Lyme disease," Streit said in a phone interview. "This is pure and simply a deer problem and our goal is to eradicate Lyme disease by reducing deer numbers."

    Sooner or later, there has to be a tipping point and enough taxpayers will push for expanded hunting opportunities, because until then, the deer populations will proliferate and Lyme disease will debilitate.

    For the breakdown of town-by-town costs, scroll down the page of the full study at:
    Ken Dixon's Capitol View appears Sundays in Hearst's Connecticut Newspapers.
    You may reach him in the Capitol at 860-549-4670 or via e-mail at On Twitter, he is KenDixonCT. His Web log, Connecticut Blog-o-rama, can be seen at

  2. #2
    6 Point
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    I live and work in Fairfield County. There are deer everywhere. There is also an anti-hunting sentiment. A deer hit my car last fall on Sturges in Westport. She ran into my door. A woman stopped her car and started yelling at me! I called police and the officer had to put it down on this woman's lawn. It was badly hurt. She sued the town... Totally avoidable

  3. #3
    10 Point
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Central CT
    Quote Originally Posted by Christtian View Post
    She sued the town...
    Are you friggin kidding me! That is just wrong wrong wrong!

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