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 December 14, 2004 at approximately 7:00 p.m.


        The following members were present:

                Douglas Barile

                Tom Belote

                Tom Castellani

                Helene Daly

                Matthew Denesuk

                Penny Hoffman

                Peter Keeler

                Sid Kelley

                Lee Pepin

                Jack Sanders

                Raymond Sementini

                Pat Sesto

                Gwen Thaxter

                Tom Venus


        Ms. Sesto chaired the meeting.  John Roche of the Ridgefield Police Department was present.  Twelve members of the public attended.  Nancy McDaniel was present to take minutes.




Welcome & Introductions – Ms. Sesto opened the meeting and welcomed the speaker and guests.


Laura Simons – Fund for Animals – Ms. Thaxter introduced Ms. Simons, a graduate of the Yale Forestry School and presently Urban Wildlife Director of the Fund for Animals.  She made a presentation on the deer issue, management assumptions and the question of hunting as an effective solution.


One of her principal points was that killing off a percentage of the deer population leads to a short-term decline in the population, but it rebounds in a few years due to physiological mechanisms such as an increase in multiple births.  There is a yo-yo effect.  So if hunting is utilized, it must be scheduled every year to maintain lower numbers.


She presented arguments against the assumptions 1. that deer must conform to a certain standard to be considered healthy; 2. that starvation suggests an unhealthy herd; and 3. that hunting will bring back biodiversity.


There is a recent study that suggests that earth worms eat plant cover and are a threat to biodiversity.  She explained that this provides an example of how complex our ecosystems are and how difficult it is to narrow down the cause of problems to only one threat.  


Ms. Simons questioned whether or not recreational hunting significantly reduces Lyme Disease because ticks adapt to other hosts.  The extent to which recreational hunting can effectively reduce the deer population is limited and insufficient to reduce the risk of contracting Lyme Disease. The focus should be educating the public on how to protect themselves and on controlling ticks instead of deer.


She also argued against the notion that 1. hunting will reduce deer-car collisions; and 2. that hunting and, in particular, bow-hunting is safe.  Ms. Simons stated that hunting pressure and the rut cause the animals to move about actively and that road side vegetation and development patterns entice deer into our roadways.  She presented accident statistics to demonstrate the risks associated with hunting.


Ms. Simons presented several options for deterrents and fencing to help property owners protect their landscaping and gardens. 


She closed by saying that comprehensive planning must be done and goals defined.  Different solutions will be successful on different sites.  There must be public education and the realization that several approaches will be necessary, depending on what primary goals are determined.


Questions and discussion followed Ms. Simons’ presentation.


Issue Prioritization – Due to the general interest in discussing Ms. Simons’ data, Ms. Sesto suggested delaying the issue prioritization until a later meeting.  The membership agreed.




The next meeting will be on December 20, 2004 in the Copper Beach Room of the Recreation Center.




Ms. Sesto adjourned the meeting at 9:07 p.m.




Respectfully submitted,


Nancy McDaniel