Deer hunting at the Quabbin Reservoir expanded
Deer hunting at the Quabbin Reservoir has been expanded this year. State officials say this is necessary to protect the surrounding watershed.
Deer hunts have taken place at the reservoir since 1991 but this will be the first time the Quabbin Park area will be included. In 2019, a similar plan was scrapped with the state saying more research was needed.
Environmental officials said the two-day hunt is needed to protect the forest surrounding the body of water. Deer like to eat small trees, which also help to filter water. Dan Clark with the department of conservation and recreation said the idea is to strike a balance.
"We're trying to keep them below a certain density where the trees can grow and regenerate and the deer population can exist, can co-exist as well," said Dan Clark, regional director of the Quabbin and Ware River watersheds for the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation.
Not everyone is in favor of the upcoming hunt. Cynthia Ouellette lives in Granby. She objects to the hunt and questions the deer counting methods offered up by the state. She has also expressed concern about the lack of a public meeting to discuss the terms of the hunt before the dates were set.
Clark, and Ken McKenzie, director of natural resources for the state division of water supply protection, acknowledged they heard from a small number of concerned residents inquiring about the expanded hunt.
"We've had some people who have asked us why and didn't understand why, then we were able to provide them with the information we had and the fact that this was just an expansion of our current program, which most people are very familiar with, and that we've addressed all the safety issues with not having people in the park during this hunt, then they understood," McKenzie said.
The Quabbin Park area is home to several trails for hiking and bicycling, along with other outdoor recreation opportunities. It will be closed on Monday and Tuesday during the hunt. Signs have been posted there well in advance to notify the public, the state officials said. The days were selected at times when the park generally is less busy.
Hunters who were selected in 2019 for the deer hunt that did not happen will be able to participate this year. A lottery will be held to select hunters in the future if other hunts are held.