Rhode Island Offers Special Deer Seasons for Paraplegics

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Two special deer hunting seasons for hunters who are paraplegics, or double amputees, will be offered by the Department of Environmental Management on Prudence Island and in Narragansett in October. The Prudence Island hunt will be offered from October 10 to October 13 at the South End Management Area, and the Narragansett hunt will be offered at Fort Greene Army Reserve from October 17 to October 20.

DEM's Division of Fish and Wildlife has offered special hunting opportunities for disabled hunters for over 35 years. According to Lori Gibson, supervising wildlife biologist at DEM, the program continues to be very popular, offering an average of 10-12 participants the experience of big game hunting. DEM alters the general deer hunting regulations during the special hunt to allow the use of vehicles and other mechanized devices that would ordinarily be prohibited. Paraplegic hunters are also permitted to use shotguns on the island and in Fort Greene, where taking deer is otherwise restricted to archery hunting.

This year, DEM Director W. Michael Sullivan, Ph.D. has again made arrangements so that disabled hunters will be able to stay in the cottage at the Narragansett Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve on Prudence Island during the special hunt. Lodging is available for up to 12 individuals, including disabled hunters and their assistants, at no charge, and is available on a first-come, first-served basis. The duration of the stay may be limited based upon the number of requests received. Last year, four hunters stayed at the cottage. Interested hunters must contact Bob Stankelis at the Prudence Island research reserve at 683-6780 ext. 7 or 222-4700 ext. 7519 for reservations by Friday, October 6.

As in the past, hunters taking advantage of the special seasons must hold valid hunting licenses and must have taken hunter education courses. Hunters are permitted to bring assistants who need not be licensed, but who may not hunt or carry a firearm. All deer harvested during the special hunt must be checked prior to leaving Prudence Island. For more information on the special season, call DEM's Division of Fish and Wildife at 789-0281.