CLIFTON PARK — The town is considering legislation to allow bowhunting in four areas this fall to help manage its deer population.
The town will hold a public hearing Monday to discuss a proposed local law that would amend the town code to allow bowhunters to take deer as part of a controlled system at the Vischer Ferry Preserve, Garnsey Park, Veterans Park, and the Dwaas Kill Nature Preserve, during deer hunting season.
The town’s Deer Management Committee will give a presentation on Monday, said Town Board Member Amy Flood. The board voted to create the committee last fall, she said. It looked at wildlife management in the town.
“We learned a great deal about a growing problem with deer in our community, perhaps unknown to the general public,” Flood said. “In nearly the year-and-a-half that I’ve been on the Town Board, I’ve increasingly been contacted by residents with complaints about deer.”
This is a deer-management plan, not a hunting plan, Flood said.
Residents have voiced concerns about the damage deer have caused to gardens, landscapes and other property, Flood said.
“There has also been an uptick in deer-car collisions, which place both personal and property at severe risk for injury,” Flood said. “Our town Highway Department recovers approximately two to three deer per week, depending on the month. It does not take into account the injured and the dead deer that are recovered from the state and county roads, this is only within the town boundaries.”
Vehicular accidents increase dramatically in the fall months when deer are more active, Flood said.
New York records an estimated 60,000 to 70,000 deer-vehicle collisions annually, according to the state Department of Transportation.
The proposed deer-management program is very safe and very structured and small, Flood said. Firearms are not a part of the management program, she said, and participants would be limited to using bows. The program would also be limited to 25 hunters for the 2022 deer hunting season.
“I just can’t convey enough how safe this program is, and how structured it is” Flood said.
The pilot management program would be open to Clifton Park residents through a lottery system conducted by the Office of the Town Clerk, according to the proposed legislation. Those applicants chosen through the lottery system would have to attend a pre-season meeting to receive instructions about the program’s rules and regulations. They will also be required to pass a proficiency test administered by the Deer Management Committee.
Bow management programs similar to the one Clifton Park is considering have been implemented in other municipalities, such as the city of Albany, and in the towns of East Hampton, Erwin and Irondequoit.
“I truly believe that the proposed management plan is a great opportunity for the town of Clifton Park to help address our growing deer management problem,” Flood said, “while promoting shared access and greater utilization of our town’s four largest parks.”
A 2018 DEC report, titled “Deer Management in Urban and Suburban New York,” looked at the issue of deer overpopulation. Deer overabundance is most common in parts of New York that are the most developed and have the most restrictions on hunting, such as Long Island, New York City and Westchester County. According to the report, there are a number of different ways to help mitigate the issues surrounding deer overpopulation such as hunting, culling, fertility control, deer relocation or reintroduction of large carnivores.
The public hearing will take place Monday at 7 p.m. in the Wood Memorial Meeting Room in the Town Office Building.