In response to resident and police complaints about the high number of deer seen throughout the borough in recent years, Shrewsbury council Monday night approved a measure that will allow bowhunting on private property this upcoming fall hunting season.
Dumping its long-established no-hunting stance, the borough will instead follow hunting guidelines established by the State Department of Fish and Wildlife in regards to bowhunting to help cull the deer population.
Licensed hunters will now be able to hunt deer on privately owned property with only a few minor conditions set by the borough. Among the council’s requirements are that hunters shoot from an elevated position and be at least 50 yards away from a dwelling.
The borough based its decision to institute the deer hunt based on a more than 100 page report generated by several departments, chiefly its police, as well as a mailed survey completed by less than 250 residents. More than 70 percent of residents feel that the deer population in the borough should be trimmed with nearly 68 percent believing that the deer population has increased in their respective neighborhoods.
In the last five years residents claim deer have done more than $150,000 in damage to their yards.
“It was a very thorough process,” Lt. Lou Ferraro, who presented the report to council, said. “It was a long time coming.”
In all, the Recreation Committee, Board of Health, Environmental Commission, Shade Tree Commission, Public Works Department, and the Police Department helped evaluate the deer problem and develop the report, which includes a number of articles that answer the question of how best to reduce a growing deer population.
Complaints from residents and staff members included damage to public property and landscaping, deer feces in yards and parks, and concerns over the spread of tick-borne illnesses, like Lyme disease.
The borough is asking hunters to report the number of deer that are killed to help understand the population going forward.
Since 2006, the report states, the police have responded to about 18 accidents involving deer each year, those being the only ones where actual police reports were filed.
There is also concern for the borough’s first responders who could potentially run in to deer problems of their own.
Mayor Donald Burden said the plan has been a long time coming. Not only has the council held several poorly-attended public meetings on the matter, but it’s an issue that’s been brought up for more than a decade.
“This has been an issue before council for three mayors now and finally we have a resolution,” he said.