Guest Commentary: Controlled deer hunt benefits Wilton

Wilton conducts a deer hunt each autumn during hunting season. While many residents have discomfort about killing wild animals, Wilton determined that hunting will occur and has mandated the hunt for the past 11 years.

Following are reasons to support Wilton’s controlled hunt:

  • Deer hunting in Wilton is based on the herd numbers compared to the natural resources available for their survival. If the number of deer were within the capacity of the environment to support the herd, the controlled hunt would not exist.
  • Deer hunting benefits the herd. Deer perish if left to forage in an environment that cannot support the numbers of animals that need food. Killing deer by bow and arrow or by firearms is a speedier and more humane way for the deer to die than by starvation.
  • Using contraceptives would help to maintain the number of deer over a long time. But, until the herd has been culled to 10 per square mile, contraceptives will not impact the deer load.
  • Deer venture into the roadways and routinely cause accidents, resulting in serious injuries to humans and their autos, and to the animals.
  • Deer carry the tick-bearing spirochete that causes Lyme disease, babesiosis, and erhlichiosis in humans and domestic animals. Their proximity to our landscape raises the risk of contracting those diseases.
  • Our beautiful community with its wealth of forestry will not retain its integrity if we do not control deer. Exclosures show deer-foraging habits significantly decreasing understory plants, changing the ecological balance. Trees and shrubs die, causing the numbers and varieties of insects and birds to decrease, and invasive plants replace natives.
  • Many landscape plantings, which we as property owners invest in, are favorite food choices of deer. They decimate the value our gardens provide and our pleasure.

The controlled hunt is just that: a hunt with significant, specific requirements.

Hunters must prove their ability to operate with bow and arrow or with firearms. They must hunt from tree stands and shoot downward to assure ability to see animals and humans in the vicinity. They usually hunt at dawn or dusk, when children or pets are seldom in the area. They must commit to following wounded prey to minimize their suffering.

The town takes responsibility for vetting hunters and permitting them, not only for those who will be in public areas but also for those who will be assigned to private properties. The process affords both parties the opportunity to become known to each other and provides time to alert neighbors that hunting will take place near their properties.

The town takes responsibility for marking with clear and visible notices those areas to be hunted and the duration of the hunt. It also informs the public about the hunt through the media.

A portion of the meat taken in the hunt is typically provided to families in our community in need of food.

As individuals who have our own Wilton properties hunted to help address these important issues, we encourage our neighbors to consider registering for this year’s hunt by contacting the town of Wilton Department of Environmental Affairs.

Ms. Levin is Wilton tree steward. Ms. Algon is a conservation commissioner and co-chair of the Wilton Garden Club Conservation Committee.