DEP Announces Deer Herd Reduction Completed at Bluff Point
The Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) today announced the completion of deer management activities at the Bluff Point Coastal Reserve (BPCR) in Groton. Biologists from the DEP’s Wildlife Division culled 20 deer as part of its ongoing efforts to restore the ecological balance at the Reserve. The activities occurred on five nights during February 2006. By conducting the activities at night fewer DEP resources were required to remove the deer, and the public’s daytime use of the park was not disrupted.
All deer, after being examined by DEP biologists to assess overall herd health, were donated to "Hunters for the Hungry" for distribution to local food charities. Approximately 800 pounds of venison were donated this year. Since deer management was initiated at Bluff Point in 1996, 10,475 pounds of venison have been provided to charities.
"Over the last ten years, the DEP has successfully reduced the deer population at Bluff Point to an ecologically sustainable level," said Ed Parker, Chief of DEP’s Bureau of Natural Resources. "Periodic thinning of the herd is necessary to maintain the deer population at levels that can be supported by the habitat at Bluff Point and to maintain a healthy, balanced ecosystem."
Based on population models, the Bluff Point herd was estimated at 45 deer. Reducing the deer population by 20 was therefore necessary to maintain the desired size of 25 deer for Bluff Point, thereby balancing the deer population with the area’s available habitat. Without that balance, over browsing by deer significantly impacts the area’s plant and animal diversity.
Biological data collected from deer removed from Bluff Point in February 2006 continued to show overall improvements in deer herd health since management measures began in 1996. As the population has been reduced from almost 300 deer to about 25 deer, deer fat indices, body weight, and reproductive rates have all improved, reaching levels consistent with deer taken statewide. In addition, habitat conditions at the Reserve have improved dramatically.