Connecticut DEP Culls Deer at Bluff Point Coastal Reserve

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The Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has begun its annual effort to cull the size of the deer population at Bluff Point Coastal Reserve, Groton.

Biologists from the DEP's Wildlife Division will be working at Bluff Point on select nights between now and the end of February with a goal of taking 37 deer from the herd, now estimated to number 62 deer. Achieving this goal will maintain what has been determined to be a healthy-sized deer population of 25 on the 806-acre site.

After being examined by DEP biologists to assess the overall health of the deer herd, all of the deer meat will be donated to Hunters for the Hungry for distribution to local food charities. A total of 10,535 pounds of venison have been provided to charities since 1996, when the deer management program was initiated at Bluff Point.

"Over the last 12 years, DEP has successfully reduced the deer population at Bluff Point to an ecologically sustainable level, said Ed Parker, Chief, Bureau of Natural Resources. "Periodic culling of the deer herd is necessary at Bluff Point to maintain a deer population that can be supported by the habitat there while maintaining a healthy, balanced ecosystem. It is also the most effective strategy for managing the deer population on what is essentially an isolated peninsula."

The DEP will be conducting the culling in the evening after closure of the park to the public. This allows Bluff Point to remain open during the day so the public can take advantage of the outstanding wintertime recreational activities possible there.

Parker said that since the deer management program at Bluff Point was started in 1996, the overall health of the deer herd has improved significantly as have habitat conditions there.

"The biological information we collect from the deer herd, taken together with the assessment of the vegetation at Bluff Point indicates that the deer population and the ecosystem have benefited from this wildlife management program. Without the periodic deer herd reductions, the deer population at Bluff Point would again grow to levels detrimental to the health of the animals and would lead to overbrowsing, which significantly impacts plant and animal diversity in the coastal reserve."