I wonder if the town, DEM, and the powers-that-be have truly considered the ramifications of disrupting an already fragile ecosystem, such as this.
To the editor:
I first learned that deer hunting was to be allowed in my neighborhood while en route to the Perry Tavares Farm conservancy grounds for a routine walk with my dog. There, at the end of my dead-end street, was a new sign that read, "Cooperative Archery Deer Hunting Area" at the same footbridge that displayed an already long-erected sign announcing, "Conservation Area - Public Welcome." My jaw dropped.
Aghast, I immediately returned home to call the town administrator's office. Surely, this was a mistake. To say I was met with a scripted response, replete with statistics at the ready and a deaf ear, is an understatement. It simply boggles the mind that deer hunting supersedes public safety.
This small area, set aside for enjoying nature and the wildlife that resides there, is effectively about to be reappropriated and despoiled. Anyone who has actually hiked the marked trails in Perry Tavares knows that it is narrow, dense, and congested, permitting only single file trekking at times. Brambles and downed limbs often obscure visibility. One proceeds slowly and often undetected.
As an avid hiker, I am no stranger to occupying woods during hunting season and wearing the appropriate attire while doing so, i.e., orange vest, hat, etc. I am also accustomed to the need of being aware of my surroundings. That being said, my considerable experience in hiking locally and abroad informs me that to do so here would be ill-advised and dangerous.
I wonder if the town, DEM, and the powers-that-be have truly considered the ramifications of disrupting an already fragile eco-system, such as this. For example, has it occurred to anyone that, perhaps, the reason we are seeing an increase in the deer population is because we, as human beings, keep encroaching on their habitat? If development isn't enough of a displacement, now we want to add hunting in reserved spaces to the equation?
And what of the coyote population that resides in this very area? Tinker with the food chain, and it's easy to predict that more coyotes will be showing up in people's backyards than they are now. What then? Shall we add coyote to "the most wanted list" and extend hunting to include them as well?
It is my experience that deer often migrate between the Audubon Society grounds across Hope Street and neighboring, residential streets, such as Elmwood and Terrace Drives on their way to and from the Perry Tavares conservation area. Again, has it occurred to these same decision-makers that to "remove" still more space from this species by increasing predation via hunting on this particular tract of land will likely have the opposite effect? That it will, in all likelihood, actually drive more deer out of the woods and on to Hope Street and Metacom Avenue, where more collisions with motor vehicles, not fewer, will occur?
I find it very telling that when this factual observation and potential outcome was posed to DEM by this newspaper's reporter, there was no reply.
If the concern re: deer-on-car collisions in town is so great, where are the "deer crossing" signs? Where are the patrols monitoring the frequent speeding that takes place on Hope Street and Metacom Avenue?
This is not a question of deer hunting in general being "good or bad" or "right or wrong." It is a question of, "Is this the right place?" The answer, for a myriad of reasons, is "No." Let's hope it doesn't take a tragedy to stop this before it starts. One child, one person following the white blazes of a trail unfamiliar to them, in the right place at the wrong time... Don't let this be the impetus for the reconsideration of hunting in Perry Tavares conservation land.