Minutes of the May 10, 2005
Ridgefield Deer Committee
Parks and Recreation Building
The meeting was called to order at 7:10 P.M. Patricia Sesto, chaired the meeting and Tom Belote, in the absence of Nancy Mc Daniel, took the minutes.
In attendance were Pat Sesto, Tom Belote, Tom Venus, Andy Bodner, Lee Pepin, Doug Barile, Gwen Thaxter, Penny Hoffman, Patricia Hutchings, Helene Daly, Ray Sementini, Sid Kelley and Guy Bocchino.
The report entitled “Deer/Vehicle Collisions” was presented to the committee. Its findings and recommendations were discussed. Pat Sesto said that the report might also include information about how other towns such as Bethel had failed to maintain accurate reporting records or had submitted late reports to the DEP thereby making reported totals lower than the actual number of incidents. A vote to accept the report’s findings and recommendations subject to a final editing in the Committee’s complete report was taken. All members present voted to accept the findings and recommendations in the “Deer/Vehicle Collisions” report with the exception of Gwen Thaxter.
The report entitled “Deer in the Yard ”was presented to the committee. Pat Sesto said that the portion of the report discussing neighborhood controversies involving hunting in residential areas should be moved to section of the final report that included the committee’s final recommendations. A vote to accept the report’s findings and recommendations subject to a final editing in the Committee’s complete report was taken. All members present voted to accept the findings and recommendations in the “Deer in the Yard” report with the exception of Gwen Thaxter.
The report entitled “Deer and the Environment” was presented to the committee. A vote to accept the report’s findings and recommendations subject to a final editing in the Committee’s complete report was taken. All members present voted to accept the findings and recommendations in the “Deer and the Environment” report with the exception of Gwen Thaxter.
Penny Hoffman presented her summary on deer contraception in which she concluded that contraception was not a viable option for herd reduction at the present time. Ms. Hoffman noted that the trial studies involved captive deer and the costs were prohibitive. Ms. Sesto added that to be effective 90% of the herd would have to be treated and the treatment would have to continue annually. She also said that contraception provided no short term solution and would require culling the herd in the beginning of the program.
At the April 25th meeting Gwen Thaxter was asked to prepare a list of scientific information she believed the committee lacked and which she believed the committee needed before it could prepare a report for the Board of Selectmen. Pat Sesto asked Ms. Thaxter if she had prepared the list. Ms. Thaxter announced that she had and registered her complaint with the committee’s work, calling it “a railroad job” and stating that she had “had enough.” Ms. Thaxter then distributed her “Statement” to the committee members. Her statement in its entirety is incorporated herein by reference.
Discussion on the Committee’s final recommendations followed. Andy Bodner said that selective culling of the herd would be the most effective and cost effective methodology. Lee Peppin stated there was no alternative to lethal methodologies at present and that hunting should be conducted on all town owned properties with the type of arms dependent upon the size and nature of the property. Guy Bocchino agreed that each property would have to be studied on a case by case basis in order to determine suitability for hunting. Doug Barile said the committee should take the position that there were no non-lethal options available for herd reduction. Ray Sementini agreed and said that no alternatives for herd reduction had been presented to the committee. Guy Bocchino agreed that there were no alternatives. He said that while lethal methodologies were not his preference there were no non-lethal alternatives available. He added that should non lethal options became available in the future they should be considered but at the present time hunting/culling was the only alternative. Doug Barile said that the committee needed to provide the community with resources such as a list of vetted hunters who were available. Pat Sesto added that good communication to the community was required if culling was undertaken by the town. Pat Sesto said that an aerial survey by the state should be undertaken and that if Yale made an offer to study deer concentrations and “hot spots” should be explored.
Tom Belote asked for a vote on whether the committee approved and recommended the use of “controlled hunts” on town properties for deer herd reduction. All members of the committee voted to approve and recommend the use of controlled hunts on town property to reduce the deer population with the exception of Ms. Thaxter who dissented.
The committee voted to have Pat Sesto and Tom Belote draft the final recommendations section of the committee’s report. Ms. Thaxter objected.
During the public comment period of the session Natalie Jarnstedt, a Greenwich resident, registered her belief that the recent sharp shooting hunt conducted by White Buffalo in Greenwich, was ineffective and costly. Lynn Gorfinkle, a Redding resident, stated that Pat Sesto was not a wildlife biologist and accused Ms. Sesto and State Wildlife Biologist Howard Kilpatrick of misrepresenting the number of deer in the area. Ms. Gorfinkle passed out anti-hunting materials and materials relating to hunting accidents and other topics to the committee members. Guy Bocchino objected to Ms. Gorfinkle’s comments and committee members began walking out of the meeting before Ms. Gorfinkle completed her comments.
A motion to adjourn was made and seconded. The session concluded at 8:40 P.M.