Trained bow hunters chosen by Animal Control Officer Mark Harper and to be approved by First Selectman Gayle Weinstein will be allowed to hunt on a portion of the town landfill off Godfrey Road East and at the Fromson-Strassler property in Georgetown for the duration of bow hunting season, which runs from Sept. 15 to the end of January 2013.
A maximum of three hunters at a time will be allowed at the landfill, which is about 50 acres, and a maximum of four at Fromson-Strassler, which is more than 80 acres.
Ms. Weinstein said in addition to the hunters being checked out by Mr. Harper, she will personally interview each hunter who is applying for a permit to hunt on town property.
Only those with permits from the town may hunt on the town properties. They must carry their permit with them and also must display a permit in any vehicles parked while they are hunting.
Mr. Harper said the bow hunters will be in wooded areas only, well off any paths or trails on the properties where people are most likely to be. The hunters will all be in tree stands, shooting from a downward angle, which gives the them good sightlines and avoids ricocheting arrows, Mr. Harper said. They are only allowed to shoot from a maximum of 35 feet away, he added.
Although the areas will not be closed to the public, there will be signs posted and neighbors will be notified by mail that hunters may be present.
Mr. Harper said in the five years he has been doing the controlled hunt on town property, hunters have “never had any run-ins with citizens.”
Last year, hunters killed six deer at the landfill and six at Fromson-Strassler.
At the Board of Selectmen’s meeting last Thursday, Sept. 6, Ms. Weinstein said this is one most difficult discussions she participates in every year because of her love of animals. She began the selectmen’s discussion by half-joking to Mr. Harper, “Tell me once again why I should allow you to shoot these poor innocent critters.”
Mr. Harper said he understands the hesitation, but “it’s well recognized in Fairfield County that there is an overpopulation of white-tail deer, and we’re trying to do our part” to control it. Deer overpopulation, he said, has led to an increase in traffic accidents, destruction of native vegetation, and an increase in Lyme disease, caused by ticks, for which deer are the primary hosts.
“It’s an emotional issue, but at the end of the day, I do agree with what you’re trying to do for the greater good of the community,” Ms. Weinstein said.
The decision to allow the controlled hunt was unanimous.
Those interested in applying for a permit to hunt on the town land may call Mr. Harper at 203-222-2642 or town hall at 203-222-2656.
Private landowners may grant hunters permission to hunt on their land. For details, visit ct.gov/dep/hunting.