Westborough – Voters at the Oct. 15 Special Town Meeting approved a measure that would allow hunting with a bow and arrow on town-owned property during the deer hunting season, starting next fall.
Police Chief Alan Gordon noted that the increasing deer herds in the town had resulted in an increased number of deer being hit by vehicles. Each deer strike is reported to insurance companies, he added, which impacts everyone's insurance rates.
Hunting is allowed in certain parts of the town that are state-owned properties. The new change to allow bow hunting on town-owned properties would only be for the regulated “archery” period of Oct. 15 to Nov. 24, Gordon said.
Hunters would need to complete a “Bow Hunting Permission Agreement” at the police station, he added, and abide by certain rules. One of those regulations is that a hunter must use a tree stand that was at least 10 feet off the ground.
Several residents questioned just how safe bow hunting actually is.
Resident Paul George noted that he has bow hunted for years.
“When you are bow hunting, you can only shoot down,” he said.
The cost of arrows was prohibitive enough, he added, that “You really want to make sure you are accurate enough to get a kill.”
Deer are also responsible for spreading Lyme disease, George said. Additionally, he noted, deer that did not have enough food to eat become weak and thus prey for other animals such as coyotes.
David Stainbrook, a deer and moose biologist for the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife, noted that there were currently approximately 30 deer per square mile in Westborough. The optimal number is 10 to 12 per square mile, he said.
Several other towns such as Dover, Medfield and Sudbury have recently instituted bylaw changes to allow bow hunting, with good results, Stainbrook added.
Gordon stressed that if the article passed, it would not go into effect until next fall.
“There's a lot of work to be done first,” he added.
The article then passed.