BRISTOL, R.I. (WPRI) — The growing deer population is becoming a nuisance in Bristol, which is why the town is encouraging Rhode Islanders to hunt them for sport.
The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management and the town opened four wooded properties to archery deer hunting last month. Those properties include Minturn, Hopeworth, Skater’s Pond and 100 Acre Woods.
The town’s excessive deer population has led to not only an uptick in homeowners complaining of damage to their yards and gardens, but also a significant spike in vehicle collisions.
“In some instances, especially in urban areas with no or very limited hunting, deer populations can begin to exceed cultural and biological carrying capacity,” DEM wildlife biologist Dylan Ferreira said. “Legal regulated hunting is the main way state agencies manage deer populations across the country.”
“Opening new town properties to hunting is a great step to reduce the population in Bristol and reduce the negative impacts associated with overpopulated deer,” he continued.
The town stressed that the deer can only be hunted with a bow and arrow on the designated properties. Hunters must also be properly licensed, possess a deer permit and obtain an archery proficiency card from the DEM’s Division of Fish and Wildlife.
Though the overall goal is to reduce the deer population, some residents have expressed concern regarding the designated hunting properties’ proximity to densely populated neighborhoods.
Alison Arruda told 12 News that while she’s not against hunting, she is worried for the safety of residents whose homes abut the properties.
Arruda described the initiative as being unsafe, inhumane and not thought out.
“My son used to make forts down in Hopeworth, so I know kids like to travel way in there,” she explained. “We just want to protect our kids.”
Hunting laws prohibit the shooting of arrows within 200 feet of an occupied residence or building, according to the DEM. Ferreira also stressed that hunting with a bow and arrow is much safer than doing so with a firearm.
The DEM said environmental officers will be patrolling the properties throughout the season to ensure that the state’s hunting laws are being followed.
The hunting season in Bristol began Sept. 15 and runs through Jan. 31.