Greenwich Deer Management Proposal

November 9, 2004


Questions and Answers


1)      Q.  What is being proposed?

A.  The proposal is to reduce the white-tailed deer population on three town-owned properties by conducting a sharp shoot cull over bait.  The three properties are: 1) Pomerance-Pinetum, 2) Babcock Preserve, and 3) the Griffith E. Harris Golf Course.   This is proposed as an initial culling of the herd size.  Long-term maintenance of the herd size will include bow hunting and/or fertility control when available and if feasible.  The cost of the initial cull including processing the meat for delivery to the soup kitchen is estimated at $47K.

A separate study is planned on fertility control at the Pomerance-Pinetum.  This will be paid out of the existing consulting budget at an estimated cost of $8K.  This is to assess the feasibility of the use of birth control to maintain the herd size once culled and will include an economic analysis. 

2)      Q.  Why is the Town considering this now?

A.  The Conservation Commission has just issued its final report on deer management.  The First Selectman requested this study in 2000.  The findings indicate that the Town has an over-population deer with over 120/sq mi in the backcountry and 85.4/sq mi between the Post Road and the Merritt Parkway.  Wildlife biologists estimate that normal deer populations average between 10-20/sq mi.   The overpopulation of deer is directly correlated to incidences of Lyme Disease and deer/vehicular accidents.  In addition, the over-abundant deer population is also taking its toll on the biodiversity of our forest because of the heavy deer browse.  This is having a negative impact on many species of plants and animals that thrive in the forest under story.

To protect the health and safety of its residents and the maintain its ecological heritage, the Commission recommends that Greenwich’s deer herd size be reduced to less than 26 deer/sq mi within 3-5 years. The Commission further recommends that the Town take the lead by actively reducing the herd size on Town properties and promoting hunting on private lands.

3)      Q.  How will the Town conduct this herd reduction program?

A.  The Town is proposing to hire White Buffalo, Inc., a non-profit wildlife management organization, to conduct the cull and assist with developing a long-term maintenance plan for the Town.  The principal staff working with the Town is Anthony DiNicola, PhD.  The project will be coordinated by the Conservation Director and working closely with the First Selectman’s office, Department of Parks and Recreation, and the Police Department.

4)      Q.  Why use a sharp shooting program?

A.  Safety -
The number one priority of everyone involved in reducing the deer herd size in Greenwich is public health and safety.  The use of sharp shooting in a controlled predation cull is the safest way to do this in a residential community like Greenwich.  Professional wildlife managers who will use strict protocol and work closely with our law enforcement personnel will perform the cull.  The program will use suppressed firearms and shoot only over bait in selected areas that are specifically chosen with appropriate backdrops (such as a hillside).  These cull zones will be reviewed by local law enforcement to ensure that they meet all public safety concerns.  No discharging of firearms will take place outside of the designated baited cull zones.

Humane treatment – The decision to cull a deer herd is not made easily.  The removal of natural predators from the ecosystem, however, has created a void that a predation cull fills to ensure proper wildlife management.  Sharp shooting over bait allows the wildlife professional to kill deer quickly and efficiently without prolonged duress to the animal.

Efficiency – The Town is engaging in a deer management program that has established significant reduction in herd size as a goal.  Although bow hunting is an important management tool, an initial cull will reduce levels immediately.  The deer management study recognized that bow hunters might not be able to achieve herd reduction goals in our Town.

5)      Q.  What permits are required?

  Newly passed state legislation allows for the predation culling of deer by municipalities through a DEP permit.  DEP has only recently come out with draft guidance on this procedure.  We will be the first municipality to apply for this permit.  Audubon is allowing bow hunting on its lands and has not taken advantage of the predation cull at this time.  They are closely following the management course that the Town is taking.

6)      Q.  What are other towns doing?

Many of the towns in Fairfield County have joined a regional workgroup that is being coordinated by SWRPA and is known as the Fairfield County Municipal Deer Management Alliance. The purpose for this group is to share information and coordinate resources.  The Towns of Wilton, New Canaan, and Greenwich are the leaders on the municipal front.  Both Wilton and New Canaan are using public dollars to actively promote bow hunting on private properties.  Wilton has also helped to coordinate a controlled hunt in one of its water taxing districts and has provide funding to assist with the processing of meat for the local soup kitchens.