Redding

David Streit

Redding is currently participating in a 3 year federally funded Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) tick-borne diseases prevention study.
This is looking at multiple ways of reducing tick populations including the effects of tick sprays, mouse bait boxes and reducing deer densities to below 10 per sq mile on two of the four study sites. This is having no impact on the overall deer population in Redding, and it is not intended to. The numbers of deer removed are too few and from too small an area. It is merely a scientific study of possible integrated tick management methods, but its results might be of national importance in Lyme prevention policy. Unfortunately some sport hunters, including the town appointed "deer wardens," have decided this study is ruining their sport and they have been interfering with the deer removal aspects of the study. The wardens have since been removed from their posts.

Redding awaits a much anticipated plan to reduce deer numbers town-wide that is being developed by the DEEP at the request of the Town Selectmen. The DEEP initiated their work for the town with a town-wide survey of residents to find out current opinions on the deer problem, how much of an impact deer were having on homeowners and how they would like to see the problem solved. Other towns have since asked DEEP to do the same for their towns.

According to the highly detailed aerial survey of deer densities performed by CT Dept of Environmental Protection, Redding had 63.6 deer per square mile, as of January 2009. In winter 2006/7 it was estimated by DEP that there were 59 deer per sq mile. A new local effort began in August 2009 to try to address this problem. A group of local residents started a program called BeSafeRedding.org which worked in cooperation with the town leaders and commissioners, local health department, DEP, state DPH, state entomologist Dr Kirby Stafford and the Lyme prevention department at CDC to create an informational flyer and web site and began matching landowners with experienced, motivated hunters to increase removal of deer from residential properties on a planned community-wide basis that will help the entire town. Excess venison is donated to local food pantries in a program supported by many local businesses in Redding, Bethel and Georgetown. More details are available at http://besaferedding.org/Home.html

In 2010 researchers at the Department of Health Policy and Management, School of Health Sciences and Practice, New York Medical College completed an economic study of all Fairfield County towns looking at the economic impact of deer overpopulation. It was estimated that Redding spends over $4.4 million every year on the problems caused by deer. Each single family residence is estimated to be spending over $1500 a year on expenses such as tick and deer repellent sprays, landscape deer exclusion fencing, shrub and other plant losses, auto accidents with deer and illnesses caused by ticks.

Redding strongly supported HB 5852: An Act Concerning the Control of Lyme Disease. The bill asked for a coordinated state policy to prevent Lyme disease at its source. Redding's Alliance representative gave oral and written testimony in favor of this bill on March 10 2008. Redding's First Selectman submitted written testimony in support of the bill and former State Senator Judith Freedman supported the bill as did State Representative John Stripp and State Representative Jason Bartlett who were both Co-sponsors of the bill. The bill was not called for a vote due to opposition by animal activists who portrayed the bill as a pro-hunting bill and lobbied to have the educational apsect of the bill removed. Too bad for the future victims of Lyme disease.

In November 2007, 2008 and 2009 Redding's Health Department took part in the 14 town county-wide tick study being performed by the Alliance with the University of New Haven. Deer ticks were counted at sites across town and analyzed for the presence of borellia bacteria in an attempt to raise public awareness of the growing problems that ticks and deer pose. In 2007 the average number of ticks found to be infected with the Lyme bacteria was 57% and as high as 76% at collections sites at John Read Middle School. The collections were repeated in the fall of 2008 and ticks were again tested for borrelia and also for babesia. Infection rate had increased to 88% for borrelia. The babesia infection rate was very high at 29%. In November 2009 over 100 ticks were collected and analyzed for all three of the main pathogens that affect humans: borrelia, babesia and anaplasma/ehrlichia. Results will be available in spring 2010.

Table 1. REDDING SITES (collection dates 11-10-07 and 11-25-07)

Name of the Redding Site # Collected Deer Tick/ one hour# Borrelia Positive TicksPositive Tick%
Topstone Park1429%
John Read School34 2676%
Huntington State Park30  1550%
Total78     44       57%

Table 2. REDDING SITES (collection dates 11-14-08

Name of the Redding Site # Collected Deer Tick/ one hour# Borrelia Positive TicksBorrelia Positive Tick%# Babesia positive ticks % babesia positive ticks
Fox Run15313487% 43/145 30%
John Read School43NTNT NTNT
Topstone Park282589% 1/8 12.5%
 Total # collected/# tested     88% 29%

Public awareness of the severity of the deer problem:

Information is passed to the public through the following channels:

The DEP publication, Managing Urban Deer in Connecticut, 2nd edition, is a valuable source of data on all aspects of deer- from vehicle accidents, tick spread diseases and woodland and private property damage. Options for reducing deer populations are given and examples of how several different local towns are going about this. In Redding the publication is available at the Town Hall, Library, Land Use office and Health Department.

Posters from the FCDMA are displayed in the health department, and intermittently at post offices, the library, town hall offices and local stores and restaurants when they are not being defaced.

Local TV channel 79

The town web site has information and links to the Alliance on the health dept and "deer warden" page

The "Redding Answer Book" has sections on deer, ticks and Lyme

The Redding Pilot, the local paper, regularly prints articles on deer related issues

Current and planned deer management activities for Redding:

On Tuesday October 4 2005 the Redding Conservation Commission voted unanimously to allow controlled hunts on town owned land in order to protect and preserve the land and its natural diversity of plant and animal species. For full article in Redding Pilot go to: http://www.acorn-online.com/news/publish/article_1305.shtml


Redding reported 541 deer killed on its roads in the last 5 years, around 100 per year. This places Redding 3rd highest of all 23 Fairfield County towns, after Ridgefield and Greenwich. Redding has the second highest Lyme rate in Fairfield County after Westport. A recent DEP aerial survey of deer densities in Fairfield County towns, completed in January 2009 revealed an alarmingly high density of 63.6 deer per sq mile. This is up from the 59 deer per sq mile counted in the winter of 2006/7.

Redding has appointed a deer warden to manage the deer problem on certain town parcels. (Deer Wardens: 948 2844 - 24 hr hotline) The Health Officer, Doug Hartline has identified Lyme Disease as the number one health issue in Redding. Bow hunting on private property of any size is the primary means of reducing deer numbers at present. Owners of larger properties of 10 acres or more are especially encouraged to allow deer removal from their land.
Residents can help by allowing their land (no minimum acreage) to be used for deer control during the Sept 15 to Jan 31 deer management season, or part of it. Controlled hunts with hand picked bow-hunters in designated tree stands begin in mid-September each year on selected parcels of town land at the request of the Conservation Commission. Unfortunately town-wide deer population control cannot be effective by using these town lands alone as they cover only 5% of Redding's land. Around 70% of the land in Redding is privately owned, hence the importance of private landowners participating in the control of the deer population for the general good of the community.

BeSafeRedding.org is an all volunteer effort to unite the community and bring deer numbers back down to healthy, safe levels for the common good. By facilitating matching between licensed volunteer hunters and landowners who want to see deer levels returned to Lyme-ending levels of 10-12 deer per square mile, this goal could be achieved with sufficient participation by residents. This effort received widespread support in its first year and accounted for 1/3 of the deer harvested in Redding in 2009. Nearly 150 landowners have signed up already to participate in this townwide effort. The goal over the coming months is to continue to increase landowner participation and get the total number taking part above 300, at which point sufficient deer may be removed to start to bring deer densities down. To take part, either by allowing a hunter to remove deer (using an elevated tree stand at mutually agreed times and days) this fall or in other ways, go to www.BeSafeRedding.org or call 203 423 0840 with questions. To donate funds to assist in the cost of processing deer for donation to the local food banks, write a check to :
The Town of Redding,
Att: Controller Steve Gniadek
100 Hill Rd, PO Box 1028
Redding, CT 06875
'BeSafeRedding.org' should be designated on the check.
 

There is also a controlled hunt once a year on the Devil's Den Preserve Nature Conservancy property shared with the Town of Weston and DEP sponsored hunt in Huntingdon State Park since 2008. For more information see the "Controlled Hunts" page. The newly established Centennial Watershed State Forest that includes parts of Redding has a Deer Management Program allowing public hunting by either archery or shotgun in certain designated areas, in order to prevent erosion of watershed by excessive deer browsing. Contact phone number: Aspetuck Environmental Center@ 203-452-3500
For details go to: http://deeralliance.com/index.php?pageID=27

Residents concerned about the deer and tick problem and wanting the town to do more should make their concerns known to one of the following:

-Selectman's Office: 203 938 2002 or by email to assistant@townofreddingct.org
-Alliance rep: David Streit: streitdave@yahoo.com
-Conservation Commission: Chairman David PatteeConservation@townofreddingct.org
-Town Web site: www.townofreddingct.org
-Town Health Dept: Doug Hartline 203 938 2559
-Animal Control Officer: 203 938 2525
-To obtain a local hunter: contact www.Besaferedding.org or 203 423 0840

-Centennial Watershed Hunting- 203 452 3500
-To report a deer/vehicle accident or a dead or injured deer: Redding Police 203 938 3400. This is important as a measure of the deer population. Please help monitor this by reporting all incidents. You also need a police report for an insurance claim.

 

To contribute to the effort to control deer by paying for butchering venison for donation to the local food pantry in Redding, please contact the town controller at sgniadek@townofreddingct.org