This has turned out to be a bad year for Wilton’s deer, with more being killed on the roads than the year before. But they may also face more fire from hunters.
In all of 2015, 21 deer were struck and killed by vehicles on local roads, according to police records. That number was surpassed in 2016 by the month of November, when 23 were struck and killed.
“I can’t comment on why there is an increase in car-versus-deer related accidents,” said Lt. Stephen Brennan, spokesman for the Wilton Police Department, but the accidents have caused damage.
Typically, a vehicle-deer collision involves either the deer running into the vehicle, in which case there is side-impact damage, or a vehicle striking a deer in the roadway, with frontend damage to the vehicle. Nobody was reported injured this year.
“Depending on the circumstances, we can call for the deer to be retrieved by individuals or organizations that will take the deer remains away or we will call the state Department of Transportation or the Wilton Department of Public Works to remove the remains,” Brennan said.
A wildlife biologist for the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection said he also expects a possible larger harvest in Wilton this year in the archery season.
“I would suspect that at the conclusion of this year’s archery season the number of deer harvested will be similar to or exceed that of 2015,” said Andrew LaBonte, the biologist.
The goal of archery hunting has been to reduce deer densities in Fairfield County to bring them closer in line with those where the ecological impacts are not as great and to reduce deer-vehicle accidents and cases of Lyme disease among residents.
In 2014, 133 deer were taken by bow hunters. That number dropped to 88 in 2015, and so far this year it is 66.
In 2014, 13 deer were taken by shotgun or rifle, compared with 27 in 2015 and 18 so far this year, LaBonte said.
It is estimated there are 45 deer per square mile in Wilton, too many for the environment to adequately support. Given that Wilton is nearly 27 square miles, that is about 1,215 deer.
“We want to bag as many as possible,” said Mike Conklin, director of environmental affairs for the town, who gave the Board of Selectmen an overview of the upcoming deer hunting season during its special meeting Aug. 8.
The town’s Deer Committee has set a goal in recent years of taking 350 deer, but the number has not come close to that, Conklin said.
“Typically, about 125 deer a season would be harvested,” he said.
The hunters first need a state hunting permit. Then they need to sign up at town hall.
The controlled hunt this year adds properties of the Wilton Land Conservation Trust on Seeley Road and off Honey Hill Road, Conklin said in his report to the selectmen. That is all that is new with the program. The rest remains the same as in previous years. The program is in about its 15th year.
Archery hunting season started Sept. 15 and runs through Jan. 31. This year the shotgun/rifle season started Nov. 16 and goes through Dec. 6, and muzzleloader season runs Dec. 7 through Dec. 31.
Mating season for deer can start in early November, but the peak is around the second to third week of November, with a secondary rut occurring before Christmas.
The hunting season runs Sept. 15 through Jan. 31 for South Norwalk Electric and Water Co. property at City Lake, Popes Pond, Crystal Lake, Diversion Parcel, and Comstock.
The season also runs Sept. 15 through Jan. 31 for Wilton Land Conservation Trust properties including Tito Lane, Culhane parcel, Chessor Lake parcel, St. John’s/Chicken Street parcel, Seeley Road/Penn Central parcel, and Quail Ridge/Honey Hill.