Westport resident Eve Catarevas is opposed to deer hunting. At Thursday night's third and final deer management public hearing, she submitted a petition signed by 102 residents who are also opposed to lethal deer control methods.
"This brings the present total of signatures to 599, and many more petitions are circulating around town collecting signatures," Catarevas told members of the Representative Town Meeting's Environment, Health & Human Services, and Public Protection committees.
But after the hearing, Catarevas said that although she strongly opposes hunting, she's also not in favor of any form of deer management because she doesn't believe there is deer overpopulation in Westport.
"I haven't been convinced there is a problem," she said.
At each of the previous public hearings, which were held by the three RTM committees in response to a petition requesting the town establish a deer management program, invited speakers shared their thoughts on deer management .
At Thursday night's hearing, Dr. Allen Rutberg, professor and assistant director of the Center for Animals and Public Policy at Tufts University School of Veterinary Medicine, discussed PZP, or wildlife birth control.
According to Rutberg, studies performed by the university using PZP have proven effective in reducing and stabilizing the deer population over time in Fire Island, N.Y., and Fripp Island, S.C.
"PZP is not a hormone. It's a pig protein, naturally occurring," Rutberg said, adding that it's not only effective but also safe.
Milan Bull, senior director of the Connecticut Audubon Society in Fairfield, also spoke, but not about deer management. Instead, he explained how overpopulation of white tail deer hurts birds.
"If there are too many deer in a small area, they eat everything. Because of that, they are eliminating habitat ground for nesting birds," Bull said.
Having heard Rutberg, Bull and other past speakers, Catarevas said she's hoping that the town of Westport doesn't intervene with the deer population.
"I think we should just let Mother Nature do what she does best," Catarevas said.
Do you think there is an overpopulation of deer in Westport? How would you like to see the town handle the issue? Let us know below or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org .
Click here to sign up for Daily Voice's free daily emails and news alerts.