Hunters get their first marching orders

Hunters wanting to take part in
the planned deer management hunt in Chadds Ford Township received their first
briefing from Deer Management Officer Tim Smail. One of the things they were
told goes against everything they’ve been taught in the past: Harvest the does

The hunt—promoted by a Lyme
disease task force of the Chadds Ford Civic Association—is designed to reduce
the deer population in the township from 144 per square acre down to 10. With a
smaller deer population, there would be fewer ticks spreading Lyme and other
tick-borne illnesses.

The township funded a U.S.
Department of Agriculture study last year that determined the size of the deer
population. The Civic Association also conducted a survey that showed 43
percent of respondents have had Lyme disease.

Smail, who also spoke to
homeowners the night before, said hunters have been taught to go for the bucks
instead of the does, but that results in an increased number of the deer.

Deer in Pennsylvania were hunted
almost to extinction by 1900, Smail said. Taking the trophy buck, not the
females, led to the large number of deer today.

“Most of us are not deer
hunters. We’re buck hunters,” Smail said.

But that mindset needs to change
if the program is to work.

“We don’t want a hunter who will
take that big buck the first day, then not come back,” he said.

The idea, as it stands now,
calls for a minimum of seven does to be harvested before a buck could be taken.

All hunting would be with bow
and arrow and hunters must use tree stands so the shooting angle is downward.

Property rights and landowner wishes must be adhered to. A
hunter’s responsibilities parallel those of the landowner’s that Smail
mentioned during the homeowners’ meeting the night before.

Property boundaries must be
indentified as would specific “no hunting” areas on the property. Landowner and
hunter should would the property together and the hunter should get property rules
and permissions in writing.

Hunters must also abide by state
Game Commission rules and regulations. They were also told to act as a hunter’s
townwatch group by reporting poaching or any other illegal hunting violations.

Hunters are also required to get
a qualification certificate by first going through more sessions with Smail,
and they are required to treat the property owners as employers.

The hunt would begin next year,
but Smail is not yet sure if it would start before the current hunting season ends
in January or in the middle of next September when the 2011 hunting season

He also said he doesn’t want 100
hunters knocking on doors to get permission to hunt a property.

According to Peter Jesson, who
heads the Civic Association task force, the township would contact the
landowners first to see whether they’re interested in taking part in the
program, then hunters and landowners would be introduced.

He added that the township
solicitor is drafting the formal program permission slip. All regulations will
be posted on the association’s Web site

Jesson, Smail and the township
supervisors all believe that a hunt is the best method of controlling the deer
population. They anticipate a successful program—which could take up to three
years to work smoothly— would result in fewer incidents of Lyme disease, fewer
traffic accidents caused by deer and less property damage caused by deer eating

About Rich Schwartzman

Rich Schwartzman has been reporting on events in the greater Chadds Ford area since September 2001 when he became the founding editor of The Chadds Ford Post. In April 2009 he became managing editor of ChaddsFordLive. He is also an award-winning photographer.

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