Like any regulated hunting, deer hunting is based on extensive studies and is meant to aid in bringing populations to appropriate numbers. Each year, the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife, with assistance from wildlife biologists, study the number of animals and approve an amount that can be harvested by hunters each season. Without this controlled harvest, the population would rise beyond what could be supported by the habitat and having too many of any population of animal can greatly damage other fauna and flora.
It is estimated that Weston has approximately 25 deer per square mile. Wildlife biologists recommend that communities in the MetroWest Boston area should strive for a population of 8 deer per square mile. Harmful effects caused by a high population of deer include overgrazing of plants, which is damaging to wild flora as well as crops and yards. Too many deer can also increase the presence of Lyme disease, which can infect both people and pets alike. Vehicle damage caused by deer/car collisions incurs hundreds of thousands of dollars of damage per year, as well as human injuries, and is almost always fatal to the deer.
For the last six years, bow hunting has been permitted on select Weston conservation land properties to aid in curbing the overabundance of deer in the community. The only hunting method permitted on Town land is bow hunting. Bow hunting has a significantly shorter range than hunting with a firearm, and arrows are shot from high in the tree stand, down toward the ground at a 20-yard range. Each permitted hunter is required to pass proficiency tests as well as hold a Massachusetts hunting license. Hunting stands are affixed to trees and located well off of the walking paths.
Walking and recreational uses of conservation land will not be disrupted. The hunters are aware that Weston’s trails are heavily used by people and dogs. To alert trail users, signage is placed at the main trailheads where hunting is allowed. Though it is not necessary, some trail users will wear brightly colored clothing or flare, and also their dogs, to help them stand out in the woods.
Several MetroWest Communities including as Framingham, Sudbury, and, Dover have also launched successful hunting programs on their popularly-used conservation lands.
For more information, see the Deer Management Program
web page, which includes a hunting map and an FAQ.