2017-11-09 / News

Muzzleloader season open for deer hunters


Antlerless deer like this one spotted in the East Passage Estates last week are not safe even after muzzleloader season ends Nov. 26. There is an eight-day season for them starting at the end of December. 
PHOTO BY ANDREA VON HOHENLEITEN Antlerless deer like this one spotted in the East Passage Estates last week are not safe even after muzzleloader season ends Nov. 26. There is an eight-day season for them starting at the end of December. PHOTO BY ANDREA VON HOHENLEITEN Deer season for muzzleloaders opened statewide Saturday, which means hunting with guns will commence on four municipal properties under the town’s cooperative program.

The initiative was developed to whittle the herd, which featured nearly 450 deer when the program was established in September 2014. The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management recommends 10 deer per square mile. Following two seasons with the program underway, it is estimated that the herd has been halved, which is about 20 per square mile.

The town properties open to hunters include the transfer station, the reservoir and South Pond. The other zone is four contiguous lots on the east side of North Main Road north of West Reach. Only hunters who receive permission from Police Chief Ed Mello, along with a written assent from Town Administrator Andy Nota, can hunt in these zones. There are two shifts per zone, and two hunters are allowed in each zone during each shift, which means a maximum of 16 hunters can take advantage of this program daily.

The expanded hunting was approved by the town to control Lyme disease. Because the ticks that spread the bacteria cling to deer, culling the herd will decrease the chances of infection.

Along with the four municipal zones and private land, the only place to hunt deer in town is Beavertail, although that only is permitted for archers. It is allowed through January.

Muzzleloader season ends Nov. 26, although hunters can shoot antlerless deer on private land from Dec. 26 to Jan. 2. Hunters are required to wear a minimum of 200 square inches of fluorescent orange during that eight-day season.

Hunting hours are 30 minutes before sunrise to 30 minutes after sunset, although the town has specific hours for shifts in the four municipal zones. All deer taken must be tagged immediately and checked within 24 hours.

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