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Wilton Looks to Cut Number of Deer in Town

WILTON, Conn. – With about 2,000 deer in the Wilton herd, finding ways to get the animals out of backyards, gardens and parks is a task that can spark controversy.

The Wilton Deer Committee is focused on culling the herd, in which qualified and registered hunters are hired to go through the season hunting deer. This something the committee has been trying to do for the last nine years.

“The goal for the town was to get to 10 to 20 deer per square mile,” said Pat Sesto, Wilton's environmental affairs director. Now, the town has about 69 deer per square mile. To achieve the lower number, she told the Board of Selectmen on June 4 that it would need to cut the herd down to 1,500 deer, or eliminate about 300 deer per season.

To do this, the town holds a controlled hunt. A team of hunters operates in the town’s open space. Also, a landowner and a hunter can pair to determine whether the owner’s property is practical for hunting. All Wilton landowners can take part in that.

The committee requires that all hunters be registered with the state and pass a proficiency test. A test for bow hunting will be held at noon June 23 at Lions Field.

But recreational hunting alone won't get the deer numbers low enough. So the committee is considering a program similar to one in Greenwich, which hires private companies to bait and shoot deer.

“They use scopes and silencers, and they're able to take a good number of deer in one night, versus our plugging away with recreational hunting," Sesto said.

Not everyone is willing to allow hunters onto their property or to kill the deer. Jade Hobson, a member of the Wilton Garden Club, said she uses a company called Sprayscapes, which offered a summer of free spraying to repel the deer for club members. She has continued to use it.

“I also have my backyard surrounded by a deer fence. On the other part of the property there are many trees and shrubs that deer like, but I have had very little damage so far,” Hobson said.

Are you concerned with the number of deer in town? What do you think of the situation? Email reporter Alissa Smith or leave a comment below.

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