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Weston's Conservation Commission permits bow hunting for deer on 14 conservation land and open space properties from October through December 31st, which is in line with the state bow hunting season. Hunters are assigned to the following Conservation Properties:
Well-seasoned and proficient bow hunters are selected by the Conservation Commission. Hunter selection preference is given to Weston residents, employees, and hunters with demonstrated experience hunting on properties where people and dogs frequent.
Per state hunting laws:
Weston's Hunting Regulations (PDF) complement state regulations, which take precedence.
Walking and recreational uses of conservation land will not be disrupted.
The deer hunting stands are located high up in trees and away from main trails. The hunters are aware that Weston’s Conservation Lands are heavily used by people and dogs.
Several MetroWest communities including Framingham, Sudbury, and Dover also have successful hunting programs on their conservation lands where people frequently walk dogs, jog, bike and horse-back ride. Since the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife began keeping records, there have been no reports of non-hunter injuries during bow hunting season.
Unfortunately, illegal hunting does take place on conservation land. The Conservation Commission occasionally finds illegal deer stands and blinds. Despite the Commission’s best efforts to police the properties, it does not have the resources to be ever-present on all properties. However, Weston's permitted hunters who have a stake in the program help the Commission deter illegal hunting, and improve safety for everyone in the woods.
To protect native plants and animals, we must actively manage these human-influenced parcels. Humans are already a key element in the ecological equation that governs these properties. Furthermore, humans have been key predators of deer for thousands of years. An unrestricted deer population is a powerful disruptive force in Weston’s forests, wetlands, and fields. In this case, proper management of conservation land requires human intervention to protect and preserve diversity of both flora and fauna. A hands-off approach would allow deer to continue to threaten many native species.
All the evidence the Conservation Commission has received from long-time residents indicates that 30 years ago there were few deer in Weston, whereas today there are many. There’s no way to know the exact deer population of Weston; however, the evidence gathered is consistent with Massachusetts Department of Fish and Wildlife estimates for our region, which is about 25 deer/square mile. The state and the Commission’s goal is to obtain a population of 8 deer per square mile.
While most residents enjoy having some deer in Weston, 72% of those who responded to the Conservation Commission Deer Impact online survey felt that the deer population had reached a level that should be controlled. The negative impacts caused by deer include:
The purpose of this deer hunting program is to stabilize the deer population in a safe manner as part of the Conservation Commission's land stewardship obligations. We do not foresee hunting with firearms. We do not intend to allow hunting of other forms of wildlife on Conservation Land.