Hunting deer amidst strip malls
To the usual problems of suburban sprawl and strip development — the traffic, mind-numbing visual blight, and acres of pavement — add another: It’s not easy enough to hunt deer.
That’s the situation in Milford, Connecticut, where the owner of the local Honda dealership has asked the town for permission to put in a gravel road so he can hunt, with bow and arrow — not on a remote tract deep in the woods but on a 100-by-100 plot behind his showroom.
In some parts of suburban Connecticut (backcountry Greenwich, in particular), it’s estimated that as many as 68 white-tailed deer are crammed into each square mile (the best guess of deer density before European settlement is eight to 11 per square mile). Milford doesn’t have Greenwich’s expansive estates and expensive landscaping, which are paradise to deer, so I assume the density of its deer population doesn’t match that in Greenwich.
But to have a deer problem there at all says something about how our land-use practices have made it easier for deer to thrive and multiply. The Milford car dealer isn’t selling Hondas on the edge of the wilderness. He’s on the old Boston Post Road, U.S. 1 — the road that for the northeast states epitomizes strip development. Empty McDonald’s bags are what we are used to seeing in its median and gutters.
“All of a sudden,” said Milford’s recreation director, “you are seeing dead deer on the Boston Post Road.”