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A Talk With A Hunter



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A Talk With A Hunter

By Kendra Bobowick

Joe Tucker knows that hunting upsets residents who toss out fruit and corn for the deer, then wait during the minutes past sunrise to see a fawn stretch her neck into the warmth.

A member of Whitetail Solutions, a “Network of Deer Management Consultants,” he is sympathetic to residents such as Lorrie Silber, who last week was distraught after her neighbor shot a deer with a bow and arrow. What is his approach to residents unsettled by deer management? “We try to talk to the neighbors,” he said.

Aware that Newtown is considering a deer management plan, he said that education often brings a diverse town closer together. “No matter what the issue, there are always some [people] for and against and a lot of people are in the middle.” Education, he said, often reaches most of the people. Naming different towns where deer management has been adopted — Brookfield, Ridgefield, Wilton, Redding — there has been “so much” education. “It’s part of the process,” Mr Tucker said. “All I can say is when we’re involved, sentiments are so strong at the beginning.”

He notes that residents are passionate about reducing counts of Lyme disease; they argue that fewer deer add up to fewer car accidents, smaller deer herds also equal healthier surviving deer and less starvation. These and other arguments, including animal lovers’ perspectives, enter discussions in towns considering deer culling, or management programs. “When they start weighing everything and it’s time for people to decide,” the more knowledge and understanding of all factors, the better, he advised.

Brookfield First Selectman Robert Silvaggi admitted that his town’s recent decision to begin a deer management program “didn’t convince everyone.” Following a public hearing, “active discussion” among the large turnout, and a Board of Selectman’s meeting, the board voted unanimously to allow Whitetail Solutions to use Brookfield’s land to cull the deer population. An outline available online at www.brookfield.org/LymeDisease/ControlledHuntimage.pdf offers the details of Brookfield’s program, and includes a link to Hunttofeed.com.

“I can’t say everyone agrees with the decision,” Mr Silvaggi said this week. “I don’t pretend this is perfect without the unanimity of purpose moving forward, but we need a way to control [the deer herds].” Is there another way? he asked. “I am open to trying it,” he said. Reducing the herds is a public health decision, he said.

Mr Tucker often steers town officials and residents to videos found on the Pennsylvania Game Commission website, www.pgc.state.pa.us/pgc/site/default.asp. The site offers a link to a deer management video that Mr Tucker feels will help inform viewers. The website states, “The Pennsylvania Game Commission’s newly released deer management video offers an in-depth look at how and why the Game Commission manages white-tailed deer throughout the Commonwealth.” Game commission representative Jerry Feaser said the video provides the reasons for hunting, how it manages deer populations, and includes the factors considered in management programs.

“We recognize that some people are opposed to hunting, but the bottom line? It’s bullets or Buicks.” He explained, “If you don’t manage deer through lethal means, the alternative is vehicle collisions, something we’re all trying to avoid.”

Mr Tucker also referred to a DVD, not yet released, that “goes over the pros and cons” of quality management initiatives. See Qdma.com and deeralliance.com for more information.

Mr Tucker is a member of the Quality Deer Management Association (QDMA), National Rifle Association, International Bowhunters Organization, and past president of the First Nutmeg State Branch of QDMA.

The WhiteTailSolutionsLLC.com website also includes alternatives “for those residents … that are just not interested in the act of hunting, but need assistance” with deer management. The site includes alternatives, such as deer fencing, landscape spray, organic repellents, and tick control and spraying. Newtown has spoken about, but not yet officially appointed, a team to consider deer management.

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