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Deer Hunting Program Begins Again In Dover

Note: The following was provided by the Dover Board of Health Lyme Disease Committee.

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
This is very disheartening to see. There are numerous scientific studies that prove reducing deer populations does not reduce incidents of so called deer ticks. The ticks simply move to other wild animals. The Boston Globe covered this issue this past summer. http://articles.boston.com/2011-05-08/lifestyle/29522987_1_lyme-disease-fewer-deer-deer-herd
Chris October 19, 2011 at 02:24 AM
I agree with Leslie. Science agrees with here. Deer populations, even when increased 3 fold, had zero impact on tick nymph density in one study. We discuss the science at http://www.inthegut.com When in the woods, one of the easiest and quickest preventative measures it to take a moment and check yourself upon returning home. A moment of prevention can save you quite a bit of misery.
Teresa Gallagher October 21, 2011 at 06:19 PM
The deer-tick relationship is not linear, there is a threshold effect. Every study that reduced deer below 10 deer per square mile resulted in drastically reduced levels of Lyme Disease. That does not mean that reducing deer from an extreme density of 120 deer down to 40 deer would necessarily decrease the tick density, because 40 deer per square mile is still about 400% higher than it should be. There is a threshold level that must be crossed. That is what the science shows. We don't know exactly what that level is, but we do know it is at or above 10 deer per square mile. Reductions to a much more natural 10 deer per square mile results in healthier deer, fewer deer suffering from malnutrition or starvation, fewer deer-car collision, healthier forests, habitat preservation (deer strip the forest and cause local extermination of many local plants and animals), less landscaping damage, and fewer people suffering from Lyme Disease. But deer are so darn cute that emotions kick in, people get sentimental, and want to prevent us from doing the right thing. If deer looked like rats this would not be an issue.
I'm not saying they shouldn't be shot because they are cute. I'm saying it because it's true that reducing their populations has been shown not to impact lyme. It simply moves to other wild animals. They may be called deer ticks but they don't live just on deer. And even if we needed to reduce numbers this is an inhumane way to do so.
Dan Sylvester December 21, 2011 at 07:02 PM
Here’s a fact the animal rights crowd doesn’t like to hear, or to admit: There wouldn’t be nearly as many (if any) vast tracts of publicly owned land to hike, bike, bird-watch, dog-walk, horseback ride, or generally gambol around on if regulated hunting did not exist. Funds generated by license fees and federal excise taxes on outdoor gear pay for these lands by an overwhelming margin. In fact, these monies dwarf all other sources combined — including the nearly nonexistent contributions of animal rights organizations. That means outdoor sportsmen are overwhelmingly the largest source of conservation funding in the United States….
Dan Wolff July 11, 2012 at 03:24 PM
Hi I just wanted to let you know that there is finally an at-home tick testing kit that allows you to test with great accuracy the presence of the Lyme Disease bacteria in ticks. It is a great early warning tool! Please contact me at 1 855 TICK TEST or lymeticktest.com for more information. Dan Wolff

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