NEWTOWN TOWNSHIP ENVIRONMENTAL ADVISORY COUNCIL
100 MUNICIPAL DRIVE, NEWTOWN, BUCKS COUNTY, PA 18940
Meeting held on November 23, 2009
The Newtown Township Environmental Advisory Council met on Monday, November 23, 2009 in the Township Building. In attendance and voting were Co-chairmen Aliya Aslam and Jay McGuigan and members Pam Fitzpatrick and Autumn Thomas. Also present was Planning Commission Liaison Dennis Fisher.
Call to Order
The meeting was called to order at 7:30 PM.
Approval of Minutes
Mr. McGuigan moved to accept the minutes of October 26, 2009. Ms. Aslam seconded and the motion passed 4-0.
Newtown Creek Coalition: Ms. Aslam agreed to attend the next meeting as an EAC representative.
Planning Commission: Mr. Fisher reported that the Planning Commission has completed its review of the Sycamore Street Zoning.
Wildlife Management: Mr. McGuigan provided the members with updated copies of deer/vehicle collision maps, noting that the accidents continue to increase and to occur along the major roadways. He has highlighted Township owned and larger privately owned open space areas on these maps. At the last Board of Supervisors meeting, the Board members had expressed some interest in possibly considering allowing controlled hunts on Township owned properties. He noted how many of the Township owned parcels are contiguous with each other and with State and County owned parcels.
Jody Maddox, Tal Robinson and Steve Kremp of White Buffalo Wildlife Management were in attendance to give an overview of their program of deer herd control through sharpshooting. White Buffalo is currently involved in the controlled hunt of Five Mile Woods in Lower Makefield. White Buffalo had also worked with Eccologix in Upper Makefield. Mr. Robinson explained that White Buffalo screens and trains sharpshooters to conduct a managed hunt on specified properties as a method of controlling the herd. The sharpshooters frequently work in conjunction with a managed archery hunt. The screening process is extensive. Local hunters are invited to apply, but it was noted that of the over 300 applicants for Upper Makefield’s hunt, only 35 sharpshooters were accepted. White Buffalo’s hunters participate in “Hunters Share the Harvest.”
Mr. Maddox briefly discussed attempts to estimate the deer populations, but explained that most estimates are not accurate. He explained the training and safety orientation involved in the managed hunt as well as the public education program that is part of the program. Alternatives to managed hunts, including doing nothing, trapping and euthanizing, and contraception/sterilization were reviewed. He confirmed that at present there are not effective contraceptive methods available. He said that while sharpshooting is very effective it is also more expensive than bow hunting and has a more negative public perception.
Mr. Maddox and Mr. Robinson reviewed the results of the wildlife management programs in Upper Makefield and Solebury, where the goal has been to reduce the herd from about 175 per square mile to 20 per square mile. There are statistics available for Upper Makefield showing significant decrease in deer/vehicle accidents. Princeton has seen its accidents reduced from 342 per year to 65 per year.
Mr. Maddox said that animal rights activists have protested where sharpshooting is introduced, but opposition usually falls off after the first year of the program. Newtown might not experience a great deal of public resistance because controlled hunts are already underway in the surrounding communities and in Tyler Park.
Mr. McGuigan and Mrs. Fitzpatrick asked about compensatory rebound effect, whereby, when food sources are increased or herds decreased, deer begin to produce more twins and produce at a younger age.
Dr. Kremp confirmed that most research supporting this position involves studies done in Florida more than thirty years ago, with different types of deer in different habitats. The research does not seem to hold true in the Northeast. He said that the ultimate goal of management programs is to keep mortality rates even with birth rates.
In response to Ms. Aslam’s question, Mr. Robinson said that to be effective the program must be carried out over a few years. Most contracts with White Buffalo are for three years. Princeton’s program is twenty years old. When instituting a program, properties to be hunted should be distributed throughout the Township near the areas with the most accidents. It is possible to have a program where sharpshooters and bow hunters are used with one or the other being restricted on certain properties. Some private owners might allow bow hunters but do not want shooting on their land, for example. There is flexibility to allow recreational hunters to still have opportunities on land they already have access to.
After the presentation, the members discussed putting together requests for proposals from the providers who have made presentations. Mr. McGuigan said he would begin mapping Township owned lands which could be made available for a wildlife management program and would begin compiling a list of possible private lands which might also be included in any proposal.
Ecostar: Ms. Thomas agreed to review the Ecostar application and cover letter, possibly creating a more concise flyer to be distributed at the January Newtown Business Commons Association/Newtown Corporation lunch and learn event. The topic at that meeting will be energy conservation.
Green Corner: Ms. Thomas said she has submitted an article for the Township newsletter with some winter energy tips and driving tips for avoiding deer accidents.
Other Business: Ms. Thomas asked the recording secretary to inquire whether the Township would have meeting space available for the EAC to host a Tree Tenders workshop. The workshop, sponsored by Pennsylvania Horticultural Society would be held for three evening classes, and would include demonstrations of tree planting and pruning.
The recording secretary said that she would speak to the Public Works and Park and Recreation Director about sponsoring the event in the new building.
Mrs. Fitzpatrick moved to adjourn at 9:30 PM. Ms. Thomas seconded and the motion passed 4-0.
Respectfully submitted by:
Mary Donaldson, Recording Secretary