Wednesday, July 08, 2009

CONNECTICUT NEWS: FoA Protests Town Decision to Hunt Deer

No news on whether Friends of Spirochetes was also involved in organizing the protest.

Protesters lined the Post Road at Sherman Green Wednesday afternoon, demonstrating against a town committee's consideration of allowing hunting on public property to control the local deer population.

"The goal is to enlighten Fairfield residents to what's going on, where it's at and encourage people to start making phone calls and writing letters and let the commission know that we're not going to stand for this," said Nancy Rice, a Friends of
Animals employee who organized the rally.

The group held aloft signs that read: "Stop the War on Wildlife," "Ignoring Facts for the Thrill of the Kill," and "Conservation Commission: Do Not Change Regulations to Allow Killing." The protest didn't go off exactly as planned. One dramatic sign -- a photo of a deer with an arrow through its head -- was kept under wraps because a children's concert was under way on the green.

A hunter can now take down a deer on private property with a bow or a gun, depending on the property's size and how close neighboring homes are.

Conservation Commission member Chester Burley told the Fairfield Citizen last week that if hunting deer on public property is allowed in Fairfield, it would be very controlled and probably wouldn't be allowed more than three times per year.

However, Redding resident Lynn Gorfinkle, who has attended meetings of Fairfield's Deer Management Subcommittee and is a longtime opponent of hunting, said Wednesday that no hunting on public space, no matter how controlled, can be entirely safe.

"It will not work," she said, suggesting that large public lands won't be roped off and many people may miss signs that will posted about the controlled hunts, especially children.

In addition, Gorfinkle said hunters wound or kill 1,000 people in the United States each year.

The Conservation Commission's Deer Management Committee has considered various options to control deer overpopulation, and also has heard suggestions by the public. In addition to hunting, the options include trapping and relocating deer, administering birth control, using repellents and fencing off properties.

Gorfinkle said, "The right way to handle the deer population is to handle the perceived problem that some few individuals claim to have."

For example, deer often get blamed for the spread of Lyme disease, but Gofinkle said a deer is only one of the hosts for the ticks that spread the illness.

"Killing deer will not eliminate Lyme disease," Gorfinkle added.

If people have a problem with deer eating their gardens, Gorfinkle said they should erect a wire fence around their plants and flowers, use repellent sprays or plant things they know the deer won't eat.

Fairfield resident Debbie Lake said she has not seen enough deer to back up the Conservation Commission finding that there are 75 deer per square mile in town, even when she's in the Lake Hills area, where her mother lives.

Hunters looking for deer "are going to wind up killing dogs or kids, or anything," Lake said.

Gorfinkle said she suspects that "this effort on the part of the deer committee was choreographed through their contact with the FCMDMA [Fairfield County Municipal Deer Management Alliance] via Milan Bull," a hunter who serves on the Conservation Commission.

A few weeks ago, Rice filed a complaint against the Conservation Commission, claiming that members Bull and Burley violated the town's code of standards and conduct as members of the Deer Management Committee. Rice felt the two members are biased in favor of hunting, as one is a hunter and the other a gardener. The claim was dismissed last week.

In an interview last week, Burley said, "The fact that I'm a gardener and that influences or makes me biased beyond the point of being rational and impartial is as ludicrous an accusation as it is to tell a vegetarian not to shop at Stop & Shop because they sell meat there."

Calls to Bull were not returned.

Gorfinkle, who was born in Fairfield, said past history in various communities and states shows that killing deer increases, rather than decreases, the overall the deer population.

"There's more habitat for the remaining deer," she said. "Their health is amplified.

Their reproductive ability is amplified and instead of maybe having one fawn, a mother will have two or fawns. Hunting spurs the rate of reproduction."

Although the Conservation Commission has been accused of being pro-hunting, it is not following the opinion of the first selectman. Rice said she received a letter from First Selectman Kenneth Flatto stating he opposes the killing of any animals in Fairfield.

"It's good to know he's on our side," Rice said. "I don't know if it will help but it's good to know he's on our side."

Source: Connecticut Post

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