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 April 12, 2005 at approximately 7:00 p.m.


        The following members were present:

                Douglas Barile

                Tom Belote

Helene Daly

                Donald Damoth

                Penny Hoffman

                Pat Hutchings

                Peter Keeler

                Sid Kelley

                Jack Sanders

                Raymond Sementini

                Pat Sesto

                Gwen Thaxter

                Tom Venus


        Ms. Sesto chaired the meeting.  Capt. John Roche was present.  Nancy McDaniel was present to take minutes.




Ms. Sesto asked members to introduce themselves.




The minutes of the March 28, 2005 meetings were reviewed. 


With no objections voiced, it was


RESOLVED, that the minutes of the meeting of March 28, 2005 be and hereby are approved and ordered filed in the minute book of the Committee and the Town Hall minute book.




Ms. Sesto opened the discussion by reminding the membership that consensus had been reached at the last meeting in three areas:  Lyme Disease, vehicular accidents and understory damage, all of which members agreed are too high.  She expressed the hope that further consensus could be reached at this meeting.


Report Preparation Status:



He described an experiment that had been conducted by Mark Anduze of the New York State Department of Transportation.  A lighting system was installed that creates a criss-cross pattern of light triggered by a car arriving at the area.  The light discourages deer from entering the area.  No conclusions have been reached on the system, which works well at night only, not when deer are actually on the move. 


Mr. Belote suggesting calling the animal control officer in New Canaan, who has done deer experiments, for further information.  Capt. Roche will contact him.



Ms. Sesto expressed the need to summarize all presentations by the speakers in the final report to show the bases for conclusions.  There was disagreement on this point.  Mr. Damoth stressed that the difference between the sport of hunting and population decrease by culling be made clear.  This will be addressed in the report.


Ms. Sesto encouraged members to define a target number of deer that a landscape can support.  Ms. Thaxter wondered how this could be accomplished if the number presently within town borders is unknown.  She emphasized that a GIS map or aerial survey would be useful in arriving at the current population number.  Ms. Sesto noted that the experts had arrived at goals without knowing the actual numbers of deer in an area.


Mr. Barile stated the scientists believe that limiting the population to 20-30 deer per square mile would help to reduce the incidence of Lyme Disease and ecosystem damage.  Eight deer per square mile would be necessary to prevent Lyme Disease from thriving.


Mr. Venus said that Ridgefield has the highest number of deer in Connecticut, so there clearly was a problem.  He was satisfied that 10-20 is a good goal, but did not know what the next step should be.


Ms. Hoffman said that she wished to arrive at a numerical goal based on evidence given by presenters, regardless of what the present population is.  Mr. Belote noted that the Committee could set a goal, request aerial surveys and help from the Yale Forestry School and then modify the goal as new evidence is acquired.


Ms. Sesto suggested that offering a broad range of actions would be wise, as different solutions would appeal to different groups of citizens. 


She summarized the goals detailed by the speakers:


Ms. Daley recommended accepting the lowest number, eight, as the goal.  Mr. Sanders felt this was so low as to be unreasonable.  Ms. Hoffman suggested a range of eight to 25, with an explanation of the numerical target required to affect each of the areas of Lyme Disease,

biodiversity and automobile accidents.


Ms. Sesto was asked to define consensus for the purposes of the Committee.  She said that it meant not unanimity but reaching a point where members could accept a goal, understand how it was reached and refrain from verbally bashing it.


Mr.Kelley emphasized that measurement is necessary and recommended aerial studies at the beginning and end of the project.




Members arrived at agreement on three points:








Ms. Sesto noted that the three handouts distributed by Lynn Gorfinkle should be read after the meeting.  During the public comment period, Ms. Gorfinkle and Bob Mitchell each asked for clarification on the 856 deer killed since 1999.




The next meeting will be on April 25, 2004 in the Copper Beach Room of the Recreation Center.




Ms. Sesto adjourned the meeting at 8:25 p.m.




Respectfully submitted,


Nancy McDaniel