WESTON, Conn. – The Nature Conservancy will conduct its annual deer hunt in Devil’s Den Preserve in Weston on select days from Nov. 14 to Dec. 4 in an effort to control the high population, a Nature Conservancy official said.
Devil’s Den will be closed to visitors on the days of the deer hunt: Nov. 14 to 15, Nov. 19 to 21, Nov. 26 to 29 and Dec. 3 to 4.
The deer hunt will take place away from neighboring residences and is conducted by experienced sportsmen who know the preserve, said Steve Patton, the conservancy’s director of Devil’s Den.
“Over the last few years, we’ve taken 27 to 30 deer during the course of 10 days,” Patton said.
The goal is to control the population of deer, which varies from town to town but is in the range of 60 per square mile in Fairfield County, higher than any other county in Connecticut, according to Patton.
“The high density has been associated with a high incidence of deer and vehicle accidents and Lyme disease cases,” Patton said. “Many of our tree species were unable to regenerate because the acorns and saplings were consumed by deer.”
The goal is to cut the population to eight to 12 deer per square mile, which maintains healthy forests, he said.
The Nature Conservancy coordinates its effort with local towns that do their own deer hunts. Weston started its campaign in October at two tracts of land owned by the town at the Transfer Station on Godfrey Road East and Upper Parish Road.
Hunting in those areas will continue until the end of January, said Mark Harper, Weston’s animal control director. Hunters with bows and arrows started in October but haven’t killed many deer yet because of the severe weather, he said.