2006-11-02 / Front Page

Deer hunting topic of special town meeting

By Dotti Farrington

A special Town Council meeting about deer hunting at Beavertail State Park has been set for Monday, Nov. 6, at 7 p.m. at the town library. Town officials have been assured that at least one state Department of Environmental Management official will attend.

The DEM was scheduled to be represented at the council's Oct. 23 meeting when councilors and residents expected details and decisions affecting the hunt, as outlined by the DEM.

DEM personnel failed to attend, one excused because of another commitment, but another without notice. It later was determined his work plans had to be changed to attend to a personal medical need

a few hours before the meeting, but no notice was given to town officials.

After learning about the attendance problem, Town Administrator Bruce Keiser said that at least the DEM was not simply ignoring the town and its concerns. He said DEM officials emphasized that they want to work out details of any hunting in the state park with townspeople.

At the Oct. 23 meeting, coun- cilors and residents expressed chagrin and annoyance that the DEM was not represented. Councilors told Keiser to schedule a meeting with the DEM to get answers to questions listed by residents last month about Beavertail hunting.

Keiser presented new data last month about local hunting locations other than Beavertail, which is on the southernmost tip of the island. He said more facts still need to be gathered. He said the data, applied to a map of the

island, show where most deer were taken last year. Most locations were north of Route 138, on private land, he said.

Last year's count included 47 deer taken by hunting and 16 by highway accidents. It is also believed by some that about a dozen deer were taken by hunting not officially reported.

Opponents to hunting in general and to hunting at Beavertail specifically want to know why the DEM is insisting on hunting at Beavertail, where the herd is believed to be relatively small and the hunt would have a nominal impact on the deer population, while disrupting general public use of the park.

They also are concerned that the DEM has interpreted information from the National Park Service as giving permission for hunting at Beavertail, while others are arguing that the federal letter does not represent permission. Town Solicitor J. William W. Harsch said the town could mount a court challenge, but he predicted it would be a long time before a court decision would be made. One resident asked that the town be prepared to seek an injunction if the DEM does not answer questions, especially about its interpretation of federal permission and its failure to get permission from the town and the Beavertail Advisory Committee, as required by various documents.

Others asked about posting the park about hunting, and enforcing regulations about permits and safety.

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