Tuesday, January 13, 2009

MASSACHUSETTS NEWS: Limited Season Approved for Sachem Pond Wildlife Preserve

Deer may no longer be able to hide from hunters by leaping into the Sachem Pond Wildlife Preserve. After listening to public comment on the issue Monday night, members of the Town Council voted to create a limited deer-hunting season in an area of Plat 1, Lot 46, between Middle Pond and the North Light. If the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service signs off on the town’s request, the hunt will be on.

Most members of the public who attended the public hearing on the proposed change supported it, citing the deer’s role in spreading ticks carrying Lyme disease, and fender benders caused by deer dashing across roads.

“Anything we do to help eliminate the deer … is a good thing to do,” Cliff McGinnes Sr. said.

Maggie Komosinski had reservations about which side to take on the issue. “I’ve had damage on my property from deer,” she said, “but wildlife refuges are set up for the wildlife.”

First Warden Kim Gaffett, acknowledging she understood the logic of those supporting the hunt, agreed with Komosinski. She was not in favor of the hunt as the land was set aside in the 1970s for wildlife. However, she thought U.S. Fish and Wildlife would allow it as a deer management plan.

The council voted first to change the town ordinance to allow hunting on the wildlife refuge. Initially council members Ken Lacoste and Dr. Peter Baute voted in favor and Gaffett against, but Lacoste reminded Gaffett that with only three councilors present (Torrey and Martin were off-island and delayed by weather), they had to honor an agreement to pass motions with a majority of the enitre council. The three then rescinded their votes and voted again, this time with Gaffett voting in favor. She made the caveat that the two missing council members would have supported the hunt.

Then they voted to allow a hunting season on the refuge this year. This would commence as soon as there is permission from U.S. Fish and Wildlife. The area will be clearly marked by a sign, the dates advertised in the Block Island Times, and all hunters would have to register with the police department before and after going there, as they must to hunt at Beane Point.


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