Deer-inundated landowner seeking responsible, conservation minded hunter.
It's not quite eHarmony, but linking private landowners with hunters is the goal of the Wilton Deer Committee. It's ecological matchmaking designed to reduce the deer population. And ideally, any relationships forged will be long-term.
"This year we're working with private residences to allow hunting on their property," said Pat Sesto, Director of Environmental Affairs for Wilton. "But we're not advocating everybody go out and get a hunter. We are not facilitating recreational hunting."
Those hunting on private land must agree to the same time commitment as hunting town-owned land. This is the only way to effectively reduce the deer population from the current 29 per square mile to the recommended ten per square mile, said Sesto.
The Deer Committee recommends landowners interview hunters before granting access. Both parties must know Connecticut's hunting regulations, including seasons and legal times for hunting.
There isn't a minimum acreage for bow hunting, but there is a ten-acre minimum for rifle. People should walk their property with potential hunters; not every property is suitable for hunting.
Many Wilton hunters donate extra venison to area food banks, so if you do allow hunting on your property, you may be doing good for the community in more ways than one.
Joe Tucker, a hunter who lives in Oxford, has worked with the Fairfield County Deer Alliance. Tucker founded "Hunt to Feed" in 2005. Last year the group donated more than 2,000 pounds of venison to the East Haven-based Connecticut Food Bank.
"People like taking care of the hungry and taking care of a natural resource that's out of control," Tucker said.
Aside from controlled hunts on private and public land, Wilton will consider sharp shooting, Sesto said.
Sharp shooting can benefit towns with an over-population of deer, according to the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection. The average deer density is 60 deer per square mile in Fairfield County, according to the most recent DEP aerial survey. Wilton has an average of 29 deer per square mile.
To perform the cull, sharp shooters work closely with local law enforcement. They use suppressed firearms and shoot only over bait in selected areas.
Overpopulation is directly linked to Lyme disease and deer-on-vehicle accidents. Moreover, too many deer threaten the biodiversity of forests.
"Wilton is really good about understanding the importance of lowering the deer population. We need to bring the eco-system in check," Sesto said. "We're not supposed to have this many deer. We are the last predator and we have to do our jobs as predators."