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 March 28, 2005 at approximately 7:10 p.m.


        The following members were present:

                Douglas Barile

                Tom Belote

                Guy Bocchino

                Matthew Denesuk

                Pat Hutchings

                Peter Keeler

                Lee Pepin

                Raymond Sementini

                Pat Sesto

                Gwen Thaxter

                Tom Venus


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




Ms. Sesto asked for comment on the minutes of February 8, 2005.  There being none, it was


RESOLVED by consensus, that the minutes of the meeting of February 8, 2005 be and hereby are approved and ordered filed in the minute book of the Committee and the Town Hall minute book.





Ms. Sesto stated that the point of the meeting was to agree on next steps for the Committee.  Copies of Mr. Barile’s outline on how to proceed and Mr. Venus’ talking points were distributed.


Ms. Sesto asked members to speak to the following question:  do we believe as a whole that there is a deer overpopulation problem?  Each member was given the floor to respond.


Mr. Barile:  Ridgefield’s data is consistent with that of neighboring towns, perhaps 50-80 deer per square mile.  Although we do not have exact counts of the deer population, the range is above what is sustainable.  Because deer contribute to the Lyme Disease cycle and to damage to the understory, Mr. Barile advocated action to bring the population to 20 deer per square mile or fewer.


Ms. Hutchings:  She noted that she sees half the deer in her backyard that she counted the previous year.  She agreed that Lyme Disease and understory depletion are problems, but did not think that Ridgefield has a deer problem and did not think that more studies are needed.


Ms. Thaxter:  She would like a balanced ecosystem, but realize that is not possible because we do not have data on Ridgefield.  We need scientific data before acting.


Mr. Denesuk:  He quoted Kirby Stafford’s statement that 10-15 deer are the threshold for preventing transmission of disease to people.  We can always attack studies and should not demand precision.  The important thing is to accept that the town has more deer than it should have and then act.


Mr. Bocchino:  From the beginning, he wanted quantifiable data and now feels that enough has been accumulated.  He is convinced that the town does have a problem.


Mr. Pepin:  The town does have a deer problem.  The understory has been consumed.  An effort could be made to count the deer, but absolute accuracy is not possible.   


Mr. Keeler:  There is a deer problem, but it is not as serious as it once was.  He is undecided on what steps to take to solve the problem.


Mr. Sementini:  He is convinced that there is a problem with over population in Ridgefield.


Mr. Venus:  There is overpopulation.  Lyme Disease and collisions can be managed without deer density management, but damage to the understory is a major concern.  Deer will continue to increase.  There are not effective predators, so something must be done in the short to medium term.


Mr. Belote:  He agreed that there is a problem.  His primary concern is the environmental impact.  He supported hunting and the search for non-lethal methodologies to be employed after initial culling.  He favored moving ahead to prepare the report.  No matter what the deer count is, damage to the environment is evident.  Although he would like a county-wide survey, he acknowledged that Ridgefield does not have the funds to commission it.


Ms. Sesto:  Deer density is higher than what is ecologically balanced as evidenced by understory damage, automobile accidents and Lyme Disease.  She was persuaded by data from the CT Agricultural Station, the DEP and studies from other well respected conservation organizations that Ridgefield does have a deer problem.


Ms. Thaxter spoke again about her conviction that the town needs scientific data before making a recommendation.  She stated that no action should be taken until Ridgefield has a GIS map and data that is Ridgefield-specific.  She would like to see Ridgefield used as a test case that could be instructive to other towns.  She suggested bringing the DEP and Yale to the table to define the problem, obtain scientific data and then come up with a solution. 


Ms. Hutchings did not agree that a problem exists.  The remaining members thought that there is a problem and that sufficient data has been assembled for action.




After further discussion, consensus was reached that the incidence of Lyme Disease, vehicular accidents and understory damage is too high to be acceptable.


The Committee Report – Ms Sesto suggested writing summaries of the speakers’ presentations.  Mr. Denesuk thought that the summaries should be added to the appendix.  Mr. Belote called for volunteers to contribute reports on the three problem areas.  The working groups will be:


        Ecosystem – Messrs. Bocchino, Sanders, Venus

        Accidents – Messrs. Keeler, Roche, Sementini

        Lyme Disease – Mr. Barile, Ms. Daley




The next meeting will be on April 12, 2005 in the Copper Beach Room of the Recreation Center. 


Ms. Sesto concluded the business of the meeting in order to allow

members of the public to speak.




Joe Tucker, representing White Tail Solutions – Mr. Tucker commended

the Committee on its efforts.  As a representative of bow hunters, he

spoke of dedication to the sport with no financial rewards.  He

recommended involving the residents in completing a survey that

could define deer hot spots, and he passed out a sample survey.  He would like to have more properties, such as open space, available for hunting.  Meat harvested would be donated.  His group stands ready to help the town to reduce the deer population.


Lynn Gorfinkle – She stated that the number of accidents and the incidence of Lyme Disease are statistically insignificant.  Vehicle collisions in Greenwich have decreased recently.  Although hunting would remove perhaps 150 deer a year, it would not solve the problem.  She warned of relying on studies from other towns because they may have used faulty data.  The problem is not clear cut.




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




Respectfully submitted,


Nancy McDaniel