Darien may not reinstitute deer committee
The Darien Deer Committee, which voluntarily chose to disband after a lengthy fight with animal rights activists over the deer culls, may not be re-formed by the town.
"I've come to the conclusion that we can deliver this service in a more efficient way," she said. "I am in no way acquiescing to the animal rights activists' demands. I would like to propose that a member of the former committee interviews for a position on the Advisory Board of Health. I believe the town should have the ability, along with private homeowners, to contract for a deer cull service when needed. Contracting for this service is common practice in many other towns."
Friends of Animals President Priscilla Feral released a statement outlining her concerns with Stevenson's statement.
"Jayme Stevenson's intolerant opinions are best described as damage control -- buying into the mind set that the town's farcical Deer Management Committee was unfairly attacked by both the press and animal advocates," the statement read. "In truth, it's lovely deer who have been under siege by a few bent on giving violence a mystique -- now pushing for costly deer services -- as though the biggest problem Darien faces is the appearance of deer who dare to share an environment with a burgeoning human population."
In addition to her statement, Feral proposed the town host an educational forum in June to discuss the issues of deer and gardening, auto accidents and Lyme disease.
Stevenson responded to Feral's statements by saying she felt she voiced her opinion and welcomed public feedback.
"I believe my suggestions are prudent, create efficiencies and are proactive," she said.
The decision to disband the deer committee came after a Freedom of Information Act request was filed by FOA asking for information about the deer culls conducted in Sellecks Woods in which FOA claimed the Town and Deer Committee Chairman Kent Haydock failed to provide all of the information requested. However, a decision by the Freedom of Information board cleared the deer committee of any wrongdoing. But during the complaint process, it was discovered the deer committee had not gone before the BOS since its creation to receive approval to retain its status as an advisory commission, as stated by the Town Charter.
Despite that decision, Haydock said in an email to members of the deer committee the group would be disbanded with the hope it would be re-formed in the future by the BOS.
"Experienced advisors plus certain committee members have been recommending that the best solution may be to simply ask that the town disband the committee and re-form, probably with many of the same members and hopefully under very different conditions. We have been working on just such a plan," Haydock said in the email.
Haydock told the Darien News he hopes the Fairfield Deer Alliance will take a more active role in getting information to residents about what he calls "overabundant deer populations." Typically, two representatives are appointed to the deer alliance to act as liaisons between the municipalities and the alliance. Haydock said there are a few people who may be able to serve on the Fairfield Deer Alliance, but he was still in the process of working out the details.
"The Deer Alliance seems to be the best way to get information out," he said.
In addition, Haydock said there are a number of possible candidates to serve on the Advisory Board of Health but he was still engaged in discussions with those individuals. However, Haydock raised some questions about the role of the Advisory Board of Health.
"I don't know much about the board of health, but I would like to know what their focus would be when addressing deer-related health issues," he said.
FOA Spokeswoman Nancy Rice said the organization was pleased to hear the committee would not be returning but was disappointed members were praised for their service.
"We're pleased the Deer Committee is no more," she said in a statement. "We certainly hope that whatever committee, commission or department takes this on will operate in an open format and reach out to anyone who is interested in this matter and allow them to participate in the process. If the Town of Darien continues to kill deer and choose violence over education and respect, then Friends of Animals will continue to protest and work to educate the public that it is possible to co-exist with free-living animals without resorting to killing them."