2006-11-22 / Front Page

Humane society continues effort to block deer hunting at Beavertail

By Dotti Farrington

Further court action was pending early this week in Newport Superior Court on action sought by the Humane Society of Jamestown to curtail deer hunting here. Last week, the court denied a temporary restraining order the humane society asked to block the first-ever bow-hunting season for deer at Beavertail State Park that opened Nov. 13.

This week the court was scheduled to detail its decision on deer hunting at the state park. The humane society was also working on a follow-up effort to block the town from opening any municipal land for deer hunts in the future.

The Town Council early this month authorized the deer hunting season at Beavertail State Park, on the island's sourthern tip, after years of wavering under heavily divided citizen opinion on deer hunting in general and this year's focus on opening the park to deer hunters. The councilors also assigned town staff to prepare data aimed at opening public land, primarily 53 acres at the North Pond reservoir for deer hunting, as well as some acreage along North Main Road between America Way and the town's transfer station.

The push for culling the island's deer herd came from the state Department of Environmental Management, which contends that the excessive deer population is endangering other forms of wildlife and the deer themselves. The push was supported by residents whose properties are being damaged by deer; and by people affected by Lyme disease, which is spread by the deer ticks that are carried by deer.

The Humane Society has argued that hunting is cruel, and that other methods should be tried to cull the herd and to curtail the spread of Lyme disease. Some opponents say deer should not be killed because they carry ticks that cause disease. Others argue that the island's deer herd is not so large as to be a danger to itself.

The Humane Society of Jamestown has teamed with the Defenders of Animals in Providence to plan a voter initiative that would ban deer hunting on town-owned land.

The initiative can be forced by 10 percent, or 459, of the town's 4,594 registered voters to petition the council, according to the town's Home Rule Charter. The council would have 30 days to adopt an ordinance or up to a year to schedule balloting by voters on an ordinance.

In regard to hunting deer with bow and arrow, the DEM said that orange jackets or vests are not required by archers or others at Beavertail park during the hunting season. However, the DEM suggests that hikers within the hunting area wear orange clothing as a precaution.

Hunting specifics

Hunting hours are from onehalf hour before sunrise until onehalf hour after sunset.

Deer hunting at Beavertail State Park is with bow and arrow only. No firearms are permitted. The season is underway and will continue through Jan. 31. Hunting is allowed on weekdays only through Dec. 31, and then seven days a week during January.

A maximum of 10 hunters per day can hunt in the park. Each hunter can take a maximum of three deer at Beavertail, and they can apply for shotgun and muzzleloader permits that allow them to take six additional deer elsewhere on the island.

Other hunting here Most other deer hunting ion the island is on private property, only with the owner's permission.

Certain limited gun hunting took place between Oct. 28 and Nov. 3. A second season of deer hunting with shotguns or muzzleloaders is set for Dec. 22 through Dec. 31. Regular muzzleloader deer hunting is open Nov. 4 through Nov. 26. Shotgun hunting is open Dec. 2 to Dec. 21.

General The DEM expects the Beavertail hunt will cull as few as 10 deer or less, but could establish the safety of deer hunting with bow and arrow at the park and encourage some private landowners to allow deer hunting on their properties.

According to the DEM, culling 120 deer from Jamestown's herd of about 500 would prevent the herd from destroying other wildlife species or itself.

Last year's cull was 75 deer. Some 47 were listed as taken by hunting. Another 16 were highway accidents; and an estimated 12 kills were unreported.

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