Hunters can get another shot at tracking and killing deer in the Blue Hills Reservation this year, state officials decided yesterday.
For two-day spurts in November and December, the shooting and killing of the animals will be permitted for licensed hunters in the wooded area in Milton.
Hunting is usually prohibited on the 7,000-acre reservation, but the state last year began allowing these limited-time-only hunts as a way to reduce a deer population that officials say has gotten out of control.
“The negative impacts of too many deer within the Blue Hills State Reservation remains of the utmost concern to the Department of Conservation and Recreation,” DCR Commissioner Leo Roy said in a statement Thursday. “It is important that we enable the forest and plant species to not only regenerate, but to thrive. In doing so the forest will be able to continue to support all kinds of wildlife, and will remain an excellent place where people far and wide will be able to enjoy and observe nature within the heart of an urban setting.”
Last year’s hunt was the reservation’s first since 1893. Hunters took 64 deer from the woods over four days.
There has been backlash from animal rights groups, among them the MSPCA, who argue that other methods could be used to stem the deer population, for example sterilizing or trapping and relocating them—both of which the DCR considered.
Friends of the Blue Hills Deer, a group that opposed the decision to allow hunting in the forest, has again been arguing against killing the animals, and has also been posting to its Facebook page about the series of scandals involving the state’s office of Energy and Environmental Affairs, of which the DCR is a part.
“Can we really trust DCR?” the group wrote on Oct. 3. “This agency has been tainted with corruption and scandal. Their decision to push through the Blue Hills hunt without public input and valid assessments is problematic for everyone regardless of his or her general stance on hunting.”
The hunt this time will also allow 15 participants to kill the animals with bows and arrows in addition to shotguns. Animal rights groups argue that is inhumane, while officials say there are benefits to using the method, a silent alternative to using a shotgun.
The approved hunting days are Nov. 29-30 and Dec. 6-7. Those who want to participate have to register ahead of time.
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