By DUSTIN RACIOPPI
Most mornings, Brian Hall wakes up to find the motion sensor outside his home flashing. He’s gotten accustomed to it, much as his wife, Suzanne, has gotten used to her flower garden doubling as a feeding trough.
In the year-and-a-half that the couple have lived off Sycamore Avenue in Shrewsbury, deer have been as much a part of their neighborhood as the people who live next door.
“There definitely is a lot of deer,” Brian Hall said.
Now, as the ubiquitous artiodactyls appear to be causing a larger threat to public health and safety, the borough council is looking to residents for input on how to bring the increasing deer population under control.
The council, which recently mailed out a questionnaire to all homeowners on the topic, will hold a public meeting next week to talk about its options. Among the possible ways to reduce the number of deer is trapping them, tranquilizing and transporting them somewhere else. Another is shooting them with a gun or bow and arrow, said Mayor Terel Cooperhouse.
The police department has recommended that the best option is to allow bow and arrow hunting for the first time in the borough’s history.
The council recently cleared the way for a limited number of permits to be issued for hunting season later this year, by introducing an amendment to its hunting ordinance. But no action will be taken until the council gets feedback from those who live in town, Cooperhouse said. If the hunt is approved, no hunter will be issued a permit without consent from property owners, he said.
“We’ll listen to residents for comments, and it will give the council an opportunity to review, take a step back and decide at a subsequent meeting,” he said. “It was my recommendation to not rush into it hastily. Let’s get the info, digest it, then make a decision.”
Finding a solution to the growing number of deer, which Cooperhouse said has caused an increase in car accidents and property damage, is unlikely to be a simple process. Cooperhouse himself is torn about how to handle the problem, just as some residents are.
Hall, even though he’d like to see fewer deer in his neighborhood, is unsure how to ethically approach the issue.
“We’re not sure of a solution,” he said. “We’re not necessarily sure about a wounded deer coming into our yard.”
In that same neighborhood, Marty Kowalski said he isn’t crazy about the possibility of hearing gunshots in his sleepy residential area.
“I have mixed feelings on population control. Not that we’re in in favor of going out and killing deer, but, if gone unchecked, the population could get out of control,” said Kowalski, who’s lived in Shrewsbury for 15 years. “I’m not thrilled about gunshots going off in our area, but they have to figure out some way to control them.”
The council will meet with the public at 7:30p on October 28 at borough hall.