The second annual deer culling by experienced, volunteer, bow - hunters from tree stands on Dover Open Town Land will take place. Directed by the Lyme Disease Committee of the Dover Board of Health this program will be conducted during the MA State Hunting Season (starting October 17th and ending by December 31st, 2011). Hunting hours begin ½ hour before sunrise and close ½ hour after sunset on Monday through Saturday with no hunting on Sunday. Hunting is not permitted within 150 feet of roads or 500 feet of buildings or dwellings. Tree stands must be placed away from marked trails and must be removed once the season is over.
Authorized hunters will carry a registered Board of Health ID number in triplicate: one on their body, one displayed on the dashboard of their car and one on the tree stand. All authorized hunters have undergone extensive qualifying interviews by Deer Management Agents (DMA) of the Lyme Disease Committee, members of the Dover Board of Health, as well as a background check by the Dover Police Department.
The DMAs will be informed within 48 hours about the location, date and time of a deer taken. They are also the first to be informed as soon as possible about any injured deer that has moved onto land that is not part of the Deer Management Plan. As soon as possible, the owner of the land should be informed and his permission obtained for tracking of the injured deer. If necessary the hunter can also call the Environmental Police and have an EPO agent contact the landowner on the hunter’s behalf. Deer should always be covered with tarp when removing from property.
As of October 17, 2011, the properties indicated on the attached map are participating in this year’s Deer management Plan. As can be seen, they are under the jurisdiction of the Dover Land Conservation Trust, the Conservation Commission with approval of the Dover Board of Selectmen, and The Trustees of the Reservation.
Based on substantial research over the last several years, two surveys of town residents, and a Lyme Disease Forum, the Board of Health declared Lyme Disease a health threat to the town’s residents. Black-legged ticks, often infected with Lyme disease as a result of first feeding on mice blood, prefer the white-tailed deer when seeking a larger host. The more deer there are, the higher the chances of Lyme disease spreading to humans.
In order to manage this health threat, the Board of Health implemented a three-pronged approach over the last 3.5 years:
1. Continuous education of adults and school children about the means of personal protection from tick bites (by distribution of materials such as tick cards and instructions on the town website doverma.org – Lyme Disease Advisory , and school information channels)
2. Continuous education of residents and organizations how to create tick-safe zones on private and recreational properties in Dover (by distribution of materials and instructions on the town website)
3. Responsible management of the deer population via progressive reduction of deer density (by allowing strictly regulated and monitored deer hunting on Open Town Land and Spaces).
As outlined previously, the regulated pilot hunting project is based on Mass Wildlife (MWL) experience and guidance together with Dover-specific rules and regulations (see summary above and Meeting Minutes at doverma.org of Lyme Disease Committee of July 29, 2010 and of Board of Health of August 9, 2010). Hunters have been carefully screened and licensed by representatives of the Board of Health and Lyme Disease Committee as well as the Dover Police Department. There will be extensive signage on trails and entrances to the selected properties.
With the impending success of this pilot program, the controlled hunt on Town land may continue over several years. It is our hope to collaborate with adjacent towns and develop our program into a regional program. Dover is located in Zone 10 of MWL with one of the highest incidence rates of Lyme Disease in the state and a deer population of 24-26/square mile. A healthy deer population density is considered 6-8 deer /square mile.
The Dover Board of Health and Lyme Disease Committee believe that a controlled hunt to progressively reduce Dover deer density to a healthy and reasonable deer population will:
- Reduce deer tick density with a concomitant reduction of the incidence of Lyme Disease
- Reduce vehicle-deer collisions
- Provide a healthy ecological balance of natural and man-made vegetation
- Provide for a healthy deer population