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Deer Nibble at Residents' Wallets

While Bambi frolics happily through the backcountry of Greenwich, residents are paying a robust bill for her nightly feasts in their yards and gardens.

"There are no natural predators anymore for deer, besides cars and humans," said Karen Dixon, director of the Greenwich Audubon. "Suburban habitats suit deer, and that is why there is an abundance of them."

According to the report "Economic Impact of Deer Overpopulation in Fairfield County, " the cost of the depredation is $15.1 million, which amounts to $968 per single-family home in Greenwich. The town's biggest expenditure was $12.6 million to cover damage to landscaping and the environment. Tick control cost $2 million, followed by $319,582 for tick-borne disease control and $131,150 for motor vehicle damage.

Dixon said the Audubon introduced a deer management program seven years ago in partnership with the Greenwich Sportsman and Land Owners Alliance. Members are allowed to bow hunt from September through the end of January.  Dixon said she has noticed the return of some native plants at the sanctuary.

Joe Cassone, town conservation assistant, said deer have overpopulated the area for the past decade. Although the town isn't doing any active control because of privacy and legal concerns, Cassone said the Department of Environmental Protection has a list of hunters landowners can call to have deer  killed and removed.

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