ANDOVER — Conservation Director Bob Douglas told selectmen this week the town's pilot deer management program was successful in a number of ways.
The program allowed 25 bow hunters in town to hunt deer from Nov. 1 until Dec. 31 on portions of town conservation land, including the Bald Hill, Wood Hill and Fish Brook North reservations and land surrounding Haggett's Pond.
He said the goal was to take 20 deer this season, but that only 11 were killed by hunters on town conservation land, he said.
"As you know, we started the season a bit late this year," Douglas said. "We started one month into the three-month season,"
Douglas said applicants had to be town residents, have a valid hunting license, hunt from tree stands and pass an archery accuracy test.
Program proponents hope to seek future approval of the program from selectmen and Conservation Commission sometime after Town Meeting in April well before the start of the new hunting season.
He said going into the program there were concerns from people who use the land for other purposes. He reported that there were no negative interactions between the hunters and the public during the two months.
"We've put a lot of time and energy into making our trail system in town welcoming to everyone in town, dog walkers, hikers, photographers and bird watchers and we were worried there would be bad interactions," Douglas said.
Another benefit to the program was the hunters became volunteer "land managers" and posted signs and helped identify illegal hunters on town land. About 15 illegal tree stands were identified and taken down by the hunters, he said.
"It goes to show you if we didn't have this program we would have hunters out there anyway (illegally)," Selectmen Ted Teichert said. "My point is by doing this, it is a lot safer."
Resident Bob Dalton, who proposed the program, said the season went very well and there are more hunters interested in taking part next year.
Dalton said with a full season, the numbers of deer taken could double. He said it would give hunters more time to scout the land and find out where the deer are.
The purpose of the program was to reduce the local deer population and the problems associated with deer, including increasing cases of Lyme disease, their effects on the ecosystem and biodiversity, and the number of deer-related car crashes.