Redding, Ridgefield and Newton Deer Count Controvery 2015 Connecticut

Connecticut Urban Deer Management News and Information Archive

Redding, Ridgefield and Newton Deer Count Controvery 2015 Connecticut

This page contains information about a controversy surrounding deer population surveys managed by the CAES ( Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station) and the DEEP (Department of Energy and Environmental Protection) related to a large study by the Center for Disease Control to investigate the relationship between deer and tick-borne illnesses in the areas of Redding, Ridgefield and Newton, Connecticut.  A group of local hunters familiar with the area argue that the CAES and DEEP are overestimating the deer density and hired a firm to conduct an aerial survey using FLIR (Forward Looking Infrared) that supports their position.

Redding deer controversies lessen September 15, 2015 Connecticut, Danbury News Times
... The town took over management of the hunt last year after firing a volunteer warden who officials felt was not forthcoming with information about the program. Meanwhile, hunters were complaining deer numbers had been depressed by culling undertaken to learn more about tick-borne illnesses...

Newton, Deer Survey Is Flawed April 25, 2015 Connecticut, VoiceNEWS 
...  a Forward Looking Infrared survey to determine the deer population in Newtown ... average of 11.41 deer per square mile should be compared to the estimated 33.5 deer per square mile or 2,000-4,000 deer claimed by the DEEP [Department of Energy and Environmental Protection]  for 2015... By sampling only fractions of the town, the DEEP surveys can only reliably report the number of deer in those fractions [more details in stories below] ...

    Scot Sanford of Redding sent these comments to Kirby Stafford, State Entomologist involved with the deer and tick study underway: "irregularities with the CAES (Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station) test sites in Redding, CT are disconcerting to say the least. In spite of clearly stated parameters for these test sites there was shooting occurring 1/2 mile outside of test sites, test sites boundaries were moved and expanded during the ITM (Integrated Tick Management [PDF]) study ... In 2015 White Buffalo was authorized to start culling deer as of 1/16/15 by the DEEP. The CAES stated through an IR survey conducted on 1/15/15 that the Pheasant Ridge test site had 47 Deer + 4 possible deer, yet White Buffalo harvested only 11 deer over a 5 day period, 6 of which came from the Pheasant Ridge test site ... The private FLIR showed 12 deer (filmed) on Pheasant Ridge and the CAES IR is suspected to have only shown 13 deer on film (it was reported as 47 definite deer and 4 possible deer yet in reviewing the film it appears that there may have been multiple counting of the same deer); yet White Buffalo removed 6 deer in this test site thereby reducing the total to 4-6 deer... This would be under the specified 10-12 deer for both test sites the ITM study required ... 

Ridgefield, Trends in Deer Population March 24, 2015 Connecticut, Glen Ekstrom
     Ridgefield, Connecticut`s deer population is down by 52%; by the CT DEEP`s own transect numbers over the last 6 years, hunter harvest is also down 50%;  24% in the last year alone.  Ridgefield has approximate 15 dpsm or 516 deer in their town.  The CT DEEP saying that Ridgefield, CT has 45+ dpsm or 1,548+ deer is mathematically impossible with its current downward trend.  By sampling only fractions; 6.53% or ( 6 small transects ) in the town of Ridgefield, CT; the CT DEEP survey can only reliably report the number of deer in those fractions; they attempt to extrapolate them as town-wide numbers and as a result their numbers are grossly overstated... wildlife seek out preferred habitat in a town and will never be equally distributed in any town...
     With the Ridgefield town hunting programs are targeting the last pockets of local deer, specifically female does; the deer herd will collapse in the next several years; just like their neighboring town of Redding, CT.

Ridgefield, Deer count shows dense population March 24, 2015 Connecticut, The Ridgefield Press 
...  a minimum of 45 deer per square mile in Ridgefield, according to a long-awaited aerial count by the state ...  the Ridgefield deer population was among the highest found in any survey,” state wildlife biologist Michael Gregonis said in a brief report on findings... “In years past, we’ve talked about 20 to 30 per square mile is a good goal,” First Selectman Rudy Marconi said...

Hunters, scientists dispute deer count March 18, 2015 Connecticut, The Redding Pilot
... In 2012, four Redding neighborhoods were selected to be part of the research project to reduce the risk of Lyme and other tick-borne diseases... Mr. Sanford, a Redding resident, and Mr. Ekstrom, a Newtown resident, paid ... to do a forward-looking infrared (FLIR) flyover survey...  Based on Dr. Williams’s numbers, there are 29 to 30 deer per square mile, and Mr. Sanford said based on Vision Air numbers there are 7.42 deer per square mile. [see related stories below] ...

... after reviewing and comparing the Vision Air FLIR (Forward Looking Infrared) survey and IR survey done by Davis Aviation provided through FOIA (Freedom of Information Act).   Davis IR survey film shows 13 viewed deer becoming 47 + 4 on his final report to the CDC (Center for Disease Control) CAES (Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station) ITM study report for the test area of Pheasant Ridge, Redding, CT.  Vision Air's FLIR survey showed 12 deer for the same 1 square mile test area only 5 days prior.
      [Comments about the reliability of Vision Air that conducted a privately funded survey of Redding]:  “Vision Air Research is the leader in the application of infrared imagery for wildlife monitoring. Their work in numerous types of settings from remote wildlands to major cities has demonstrated the adaptability and effectiveness of this technology. For remotely-sensing populations of small to large animals, monitoring with infrared has numerous advantages for generating reliable surveys.” (Jonathan Hauffler, PhD., CWB, Past President, The Wildlife Society, Executive Director Ecosystem Management Resource Institute, Seely, Lake MT 59868)  
     “During my tenure as the wildlife biologist for the Pennsylvania DCNR, Vision Air Research successfully completed what may have been the largest aerial deer survey ever. It was a monumental effort providing valuable information.” (Merlin Benner, President, Wildlife Specialists, LLC, Wellsboro, PA 16901) ... [The Vision Survey counted significantly fewer deer in the town than the survey done by Davis Aviation which was submitted to the Center for Disease Control related to research on Lyme disease. ]

Redding,  Results and Description of the Redding Aerial Deer Survey 3 March 2015 0830-1130 Hours [PDF]  SC Williams, P Helicopters - 2015 for CAES and DEEP
... Sharpshooting had commenced before the flight;  11 deer had been removed … These numbers were added to the corrected density to determine pre-sharpshoot density estimates (2015 Density).  It should be noted that pre-sharpshoot corrected densities reported here (38.3 deer/m2) are virtually identical to mean raw pre-sharpshooting deer counts within the 4 one-square mile areas reported by Davis Aviation in their downward-looking infrared survey (38.8 deer/m2), which has superioir detectability of deer on the ground...
     Comparison to Privately Funded Forward Looking Infrared Survery (FLIR) Done by Vision Air Research, March 14, 2015 Connecticut, Glen Ekstrom
     The privately contracted FLIR survey covered the entire town of Redding, CT and so it truly represents both the total number of deer in town and the deer density per square mile for the town.  By sampling only fractions;  ( 3-13% ) of the town of Redding the CAES (Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station) and DEEP surveys can only reliably report the number of deer in those fractions; they attempt to extrapolate them as town-wide numbers and as a result their numbers are grossly overstated...  wildlife seek out preferred habitat in a town and will never be equally distributed in any town.  This is why the numbers are in such disagreement; their repeat surveys merely demonstrate that you can repeat the same error multiple times and get the same wrong answer... [The FLIR survey showed 234 deer in the town compared to the estimate of 1200+ from the CAES and DEEP] See also

Bethel, How Many Deer in Bethel, CT ? March 5, 2015 Connecticut, discussion
... By using 2015 CT DEEP transects for Newtown and Redding, CT; and then comparing those results to the privately-funded FLIR surveys ... [an] estimate of the deer population for Bethel, CT; is likely to be around 170 deer in total with a 10.12 dpsm [deer per square mile] ...

Shelton Deer Committee loses 1,200 deer, online discussion February 26, 2015 Connecticut, 
     The recently disbanded Shelton Deer Committee had a hard time deciding just how many deer they actually had ? One minute it`s 800 and the next it`s 2,000. Last year in 2014, Shelton cooked the books on their deer population by 65.5% ( 925 to 1,531 / CT DEEP Transect Survey ) stating they had to use the " larger numbers from 2009 "; when in reality they have approximately 300 deer... The Shelton deer committee says they need to get their deer population down to 8 -12 dpsm; they will be very happy to hear; they are already there ! ... 

Redding, Tick study enters final year February 20, 2015 Conecticut, The Redding Pilot 
... The study is funded through a grant from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).  In the four test areas, different treatment combinations are being tested ... a company called White Buffalo comes to town and removes deer in two study areas using guns... Some hunters were also vocal about their disapproval of White Buffalo culling deer in the off season and they believed that the numbers reported by Dr. Williams are inaccurate... [related information below]

      On January 11th and 14th, 2015, residents of Newtown, CT contracted with Vision Air Research for a Forward Looking Infrared ( FLIR ) survey to determine the deer population in Newtown, CT. This survey was conducted between the hours of 1500-2000 (3-8pm) on the dates given and the results of this survey showed on average 11.41 deer per square mile; a total of 689 deer were located in 296 groups.  This survey covered all Newtown's  60.38 square miles and therefore represents a true census of Newtown's whitetail deer herd.   The CT DEEP transect survey for 2015; is based on surveying 1.5% of Newtown, CT;  the privately funded FLIR surveyed the entire town of Newtown, CT.  Appendix A - Page 7; as been removed from this report showing the deer group locations and size throughout Newtown, CT.

Aerial Infrared Deer Survey Redding, Connecticut – January 2015 [PDF] February 17, 2015 Susan Bernatas, Certified Wildlife Biologis, Vision Air Research, Inc
...  A total of 234 deer were located in 102 groups (Appendix A – 1). I delineated the two blocks requested over the area flown. The eastern most block had 6 groups and 12 deer while the western block had 5 groups and 11 deer (Appendix A 2 and 3). Most deer were found in forest settings. Deer group size ranged from 1 – 8 individuals. Groups were found across Redding....

Redding, Hunters Express Concern About Redding Deer Cull January 26, 2015 Connecticut,
     It has come to the sportsmen's attention that the State of CT DEEP has issued a permit and CAES have begun shooting at night in Redding in their continued effort to destroy the relatively small yet remaining deer herd. The final deer kill of the CAES Study was slated for February and March 2015 after the close of the archery deer season at the end of January. It was also promised by Rick Jacobson of The CT DEEP that an aerial survey would be done to insure the herd was not reduced below a level of 10 deer per square mile in the test areas. While it is believed the state did the required survey it was found that this was done over baited areas that will artificially inflate the deer counts in the test areas. The sportsmen self funded an FLIR survey in the hopes of establishing a starting point in a discussion with CT DEEP on proactive deer management... With deer populations dropping by approximately 75% in less than five years and Lyme cases increased by close to 62%, it will be hard for the state to explain their actions...

   Last week an FLIR [Forward-looking infrared] deer survey was completed in Redding, CT. The survey covered all of Reddings; ( 31.5 ) square miles and was done using current FLIR technology by VisionAirResearch.Com ... While there can be "pockets" of stable deer populations there has been a growing trend (as reported here by experienced bow hunters) of a steady decline in the deer herd, especially in Fairfield County. ...[Hunters discuss Issues related to this survey and Connecticut deer populations]

Redding, Deer Reduction = Increased Lyme January 2, 2015 Connecticut,
...  From 2009-2014 the deer harvest rates in Redding; town owned open spaces plummeted by 95% ( 141 to 7 ) and town wide by 78% ( 321 to 70 ). In sharp contrast reported cases of Lyme increased by 62% + over the last 4 years despite this drop in deer harvest numbers. In comparison, Greenwich and Westport have stable populations of 25+ deer per square mile and Lyme disease rates remains low, even with deer populations nearly three times that of Redding.

Redding Deer Population and Harvest Down 80% December 19, 2014 Connecticut,
... 2009 to 2014 we see the Redding deer population and harvest rate go down by approximately  80%. [321 to 63] ...They are no longer taking about ticks as reported cases of Lyme increased by 62.5% + over the last 4 years in Redding despite the significantly decreasing deer population... When will the CT DEEP step in and put a stop to the over kill of deer...

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