Growing up in the suburbs of Long Island, I never really thought about hunting or thought it was something remote from me. It wasn’t until many years later when I moved to Greenwich, Connecticut to manage a 250 acre nature preserve that hunting became a very close reality.
Audubon Greenwich had begun a white-tailed deer hunting project the year before I got there, and it was my responsibility to manage it. There was a serious overpopulation of deer in Greenwich, and when there is an overpopulation of deer, they destroy the forest habitat by eating wildflowers and the forest understory shrubs. Ten deer per square mile can sustain the flora and birdlife, but Fairfield County it is more like… The deer strip the low-lying brush, and thereby deer threaten the local survival of those bird species, which need low shrubs for nesting. The multi-year ongoing project at Audubon Greenwich has been successful in reducing the herd, and inexpensive using a strictly monitored local bowhunting club.
The state’s deer population has been rising for the last 50 years. Incredible as it may seem, in the early 1900s, the statewide deer population was estimated at less than 50 deer because mountain lions, coyote and other animals culled their numbers. Today wildlife experts believe Connecticut’s deer population may be around 100,000.
But in the past ten years, because of efforts by the DEP to expand hunting seasons and work with different towns to open public lands, nature conservancies, water company properties and private properties to hunting, the deer population is stabilizing and, in some areas, beginning to go down. Continue reading