Ridgefield Deer Committee

Ridgefield Recreation Center

195 Danbury Road

Ridgefield, CT  06877




        A meeting of the Ridgefield Deer Committee was held in the Copper Beech Room of the Ridgefield Recreation Center, 195 Danbury Road, Ridgefield, CT  06877 on November 22, 2004 at approximately 7:05 p.m.


        The following members were present:

                Douglas Barile

                Tom Belote

                Guy Bocchino

                Helene Daly

                Donald Damoth

                Matthew Denesuk

                Pat Hutchings

                Peter Keeler

                Sid Kelley

                Lee Pepin

                Jack Sanders

                Raymond Sementini

                Pat Sesto

                Gwen Thaxter

                Tom Venus


        Ms. Sesto chaired the meeting.  Rudy Marconi, First Selectman, and John Roche of the Ridgefield Police Department were present.  Nancy McDaniel was present to take minutes.




The minutes of the November 9, 2004 meeting were reviewed. 


Upon motion duly made, seconded and unanimously carried, it was

RESOLVED, that the minutes of the meeting of November 9, 2004 be and hereby are approved and ordered filed in the minute book of the Committee and the Town Hall minute book.




Three speakers made presentations.


Pat Sesto, Director of Environmental Affairs for Wilton – Ms. Sesto described the process that Wilton used to define the deer problem and come up with recommendations.  The Board of Selectmen authorized funding for a professional survey of townspeople’s opinions on the problem.  Most preferred limiting the population by birth control, an approach that is unavailable.  Education about the deer problem and the benefits of limited hunting became necessary.  The Committee prepared eight pages of recommendations dealing with deer over-population.  One recommendation was to hunt the reservoir lands. Consequently, they implemented controlled bow and gun hunts from fixed stands on 700 acres of partially fenced reservoir land.  Hunting is also encouraged on privately-held parcels.  Ms. Sesto also organized the controlled hunts at The Nature Conservancy’s Weir Preserve.


She emphasized that the group worked with the Board of Selectmen at each stage of planning and publicizing the Deer Committee’s recommendations.  Their efforts coincide with the goals of the CT DEP.  References of each invited hunter were examined.  Last year 24 deer were harvested, with five being donated to food banks, and 43 have been harvested this so far year.


Steve Patton, Director of Devil’s Den – The Den consists of 1700 acres.  Mr. Patton’s primary interest is the ecology of the forest system.  As forests have increased, so have deer, resulting in loss of ground floor in the forest and decrease in diversity of animals.  He organized the first harvest in 2001 and permitted the use of rifles only.  Nine to 15 hunters participate each year.  The preserve is closed to visitors to ensure a safe hunt.  The average take is 30-35 deer over eight or nine days.


Mr. Patton has not seen evidence of recovery of plant materials after the hunts and suspects that it will take five to ten years before progress is noted.


Tom Renzulli, Master Senior Firearms and Bow Instructor for Connecticut DEP – Mr. Renzulli displayed a collection of bows, arrows, firearms and ammunition.  He stressed that safety and being good stewards of the land are paramount.  Bows are accurate for a distance of 30-35 yards, while a shotgun is accurate for 80 yards.  He demonstrated the target area on a deer, which must be hit to drop the animal.


Next Steps – The prioritization of issues will be discussed at the next meeting on December 14.  There will be a speaker as well, so the meeting will take two hours.  Dr. Denesuk suggested forming subcommittees to research specific questions and then report to the Committee as a whole.  He recommended taking some time to devise a road map for action.


Future meetings

        January 11 – Dr. Os Schmitz

        January 24 – Speaker from Greenwich (unconfirmed)


2005 Schedule – Members agreed to continue the second Tuesday/fourth Monday schedule.  Ms. Sesto will submit it to Town Hall for the record.




The next meeting will be on December 14, 2004 in the Copper Beach Room of the Recreation Center.




Ms. Sesto adjourned the meeting at 8:40 p.m.




Respectfully submitted,


Nancy McDaniel