As published in Fairfield (Connecticut) Minuteman Newspaper, March 6, 2009
To the Editor:
The Minuteman’s article “Deer population in subcommittee line of sight” (Feb. 26, 2009) neglected to include the way in which the Conservation Commission’s meeting silenced some who attended.
I am a Fairfield resident. As an employee of Friends of Animals in Darien, CT, an animal advocacy organization founded in 1957 (www.friendsofanimals.org), I was contacted by an alternate member of the Conservation Commission and asked to present information at the meeting of February 19, on deer and hunting. I agreed to attend and invited another person to present and our names were put on the agenda.
Subsequently, Stanton Lesser, the meeting’s chair, decided to cross our names off the agenda and would not allow us to speak. Others noted that they’ve never seen someone crossed off an agenda. We sat at that meeting and might as well have had tape over our mouths.
Also present was the Fairfield County Municipal Deer Management Alliance, a group that promotes hunting. Their representative enjoyed the opportunity to provide the commission with information, answer questions, and hand out information. A few of the commission members made comments suggesting that there is a problem in Fairfield with deer overpopulation — as if they have already made up their minds.
The member who invited us to speak gave numerous statements that indicated much was left out of the discussion, yet none of what the member stated appears in the minutes from that meeting on the town website. I have placed a call to Conservation Department to inquire as to why these comments are, at the time of this writing, missing from the minutes.
I have written a letter to the First Selectman asking for clarification on exactly who makes the rules for these meetings. Are they guided by Robert’s Rules of Order — the opinion of the Town Attorney and the Town Clerk? Or the Town Charter, as rumor had it that night at the meeting? Either way, no public meeting should be conducted this way.
All residents of Fairfield should know there is now a subcommittee that will look into the issue of whether there is deer “overpopulation” and that at least some of its members have made up their minds, as was obvious at the meeting. At least one is a hunter, and can hardly be expected to say anything else.
If you care about the town of Fairfield’s open space, and the free-living animals who inhabit these areas, and do not wish to see these areas turn into killing fields, be prepared to speak up. You can be sure those who enjoy killing deer will be ready with their scare tactics and misinformation about Lyme disease, collisions, and landscape issues.