Shelton Statistics

Assessment #1 - Eklund (inside and outside of the deer exclosure at Eklund Garden showing strong evidence of severe deer browsing on oak and pine saplings)
Assessment #2 - Klapik (6 plots in the open space known as Klapik Farm showing a complete absence of oak regeneration as well as very sparse vegetation overall).
Assessment #3 - Nells Rock (6 plots showing a thinning forest, lack of tree regeneration, and stunted vegetation).
Moderate to severe deer browse damage was observed throughout the plots inventoried, with the exception of the one study plot located within the deer fence at Eklund Garden.  

TICK-BORNE ILLNESSES: According to the Connecticut Department of Public Health, Shelton had 29 “confirmed and probable” cases of Lyme Disease in 2013. The CDC now estimates that only 10% of cases are reported nationwide. If this is true in Shelton, then the real number of cases is closer to 290 per year.

In the economic report commissioned by the Fairfield County Municipal Deer Management Alliance in 2010, a figure of $10,652 was used as the average cost to treat a case of Lyme Disease. This number is based on a 2006 study that found the average Lyme Disease case cost $2,970 in direct medical costs and $5,202 in indirect medical costs, nonmedical costs, and productivity losses. Using the 2006 cost estimates with the 2013 estimate for Lyme Disease cases in Shelton (290) gives a total cost of $3,089,080 per year. However, the authors of the study did note that costs had gone down during the study period as patients and the medical community became more aware of Lyme Disease. Emergent tick-borne illnesses include anaplasmosis, babesiosis, and the more rare Powassan virus, which is similar to equine encephalitis and may be fatal. We have no data regarding the potential impacts of these diseases on

VEHICLE STRIKES: The Shelton Police Department provided the following statistics that cover a period of three years (2011 - 2013):
  • A total of 147 deer strikes were reported to the Shelton Police (an average of 49 per year).
  • 79 of the deer were euthanized by the responding officer.
  • These statistics include CT Routes 108 and 110, but not Route 8.
  • The number was fairly consistent from year to year (indicating no sharp changes in the deer population)
  • Not all deer strikes are reported to the Police. 
 According to the State Farm Insurance company, deer collisions cost an average of $3888 per collision in 2013. Therefore, the cost of known vehicle/deer strikes to Shelton residents is estimated at a minimum of $190,512 per year. True costs may be far higher if a substantial percentage of collisions are not reported to the Police.  These costs are largely externalized to insurance companies.

LANDSCAPING DAMAGE:The Shelton Deer Committee did not have the resources to survey Shelton residents regarding landscaping damage, but based on conversations it appears anecdotally that many residents are experiencing increased landscaping damage, bolder deer (including deer that do not leave when they see people), and are increasingly taken measures in response.  These measures range from abandoning certain plantings that deer favor (e.g. hostas), using deer repellent sprays, and installing deer fencing, especially around vegetable gardens or sections of a yard. The practice of encircling an entire property with deer fencing, common in some communities to the west such as Redding or Wilton, is still rare in Shelton.

Shelton maintains two community gardens where residents can lease plots to grow vegetables. Both gardens are protected by deer fencing, and plot holders often note they cannot grow vegetables in their own yards because of the deer.

The degree of landscaping damage reported by residents varies widely, from residents who say they “are lucky” and have never had a problem, to people who routinely see multiple deer in their yards (at times these deer refuse to leave) and are experiencing severe damage to plantings.  Most people seem to be experiencing moderate but increasing damage.  Disparities in the level of landscaping damage across Shelton is likely due in part to the habit of deer following the same route every day. Properties along that route will experience more damage than other properties.  Properties located near severely overbrowsed woodlands may also experience increased landscaping damage because the food sources in the forest have been depleted.

Residential tolerance of deer in the backyard in Shelton varies widely.  Some residents do not mind damage to plantings, even if it is severe, because they enjoy seeing deer.  Most residents do not appear to mind a minor level of landscaping damage and, as long as damage is limited, these residents enjoy seeing deer on their property. However, once deer begin to inflict significant sustained damage on residential properties, opinions about deer and deer control often shift quite rapidly, with calls for someone to “do something.” This has occurred to many Shelton residents over the past five years.

Costs can be substantial. The Fairfield County Municipal Deer Management Alliance commissioned a study in 2010 to study the economic impacts of deer, in which the average Shelton homeowner was estimated to have suffered $402 per year in losses due to deer browse on landscaping, for a total of nearly $4,000,000 per year to Shelton residents. This was based on the average costs to single family homeowners throughout Fairfield County ($804) multiplied by a factor of 0.5 to adjust for median household income. The study may overstate current costs because deer impacts have only recently become widespread in Shelton, and many residents have not yet resorted to the costly use of deer repellents or installed deer fencing.  Such measures are likely to become increasingly common in the absence of deer control.

CROP DAMAGE:  The Deer Committee was unable to obtain information from all of Shelton’s farmers, but a sampling of impacts include: Beardsley Orchards: The farm estimates their losses at $10,000 per year. Fairview Tree Farm: An entire crop of newly planted tree seedlings were pulled out of the ground by deer.  The farm applied for a Crop Damage Permit from the CT DEEP and was denied because there was no evidence that the seedlings had ever been planted.

  • Guy’s Ecogarden:  Corn is no longer grown due to deer damage. 
  • Fairview Tree Farm: An entire crop of newly planted tree seedlings were plulled out of the ground by deer. The Farm applied for a Crop Damage Permit from the CT DEEP and was denied because there was no evidence that the seedlings had ever been planted. 
  • Guy's Ecogarden: Corn is no longer grown due to deer damage.

  • TICK CONTROL TREATMENTS:   Many Shelton homeowners routinely hire professionals to spray tick-control chemicals over their lawns. Pesticides are referred to as “acaricides” when applied to kill ticks. In a 2010 study commissioned by the Fairfield County Municipal Deer Management Alliance, it was estimated that Shelton residents spend a total of $1,336,384 each year on these treatments (9875 single-family households x $135.33 average expenditures per household in Fairfield County).

    Environmental impacts of tick pesticides: Although commonly marketed as “safe” due to low mammalian and bird toxicity, existing acaricides are broad-spectrum insecticides that are toxic to a wide range of insects, including beneficial insects such as bees. This includes commonly used “green” organic products such as pyrethrin-based sprays. These acaricides are also highly toxic to aquatic life. The cumulative ecological impacts of the widespread use of acaricides does not appear to have been studied.

    WATERSHED IMPACTS: In 2013, the Aquarion Water Company began controlled hunts on their Shelton properties, stating, “Overbrowsing by deer continues to impact tree regeneration resulting in significant loss of vegetation and increased potential for erosion and nutrient releases on the watersheds. These conditions adversely impact the quality of the water supplies.” Adverse impacts to water bodies such as the Far Mill River and Hope Lake may be occurring as well.

    COSTS TO PET OWNERS: Tick-borne illnesses are also a significant cost to pet owners, who pay for annual screenings, Lyme Disease vaccines (and subsequent boosters), testing, and treatments when a pet becomes ill. Veterinarians often recommend treatments such as FrontLine as a means of reducing a dog’s exposure to ticks, especially for dogs that spend time outdoors.  Recent local charges from one veterinarian practice for these services and product were:

    Annual Lyme vaccine $31
    Annual screening for “HWT/Lyme/Ehrich/Anapl” $73 (heartworm + three tick-borne illnesses)
    Frontline Plus $206 (one year)

    These costs may be adjusted as follows to account for the proportion spent on tick control and tick-born illnesses: 0.75% of the annual screening ($55) and 50% of the Flea/Tick medication ($103). Using these figures, a dog owner may spend $189 per year on each dog to prevent and screen for tick-borne illnesses. In 2013, there were 1750 registered dogs in Shelton, for total potential annual costs of up to $330,750 for preventative measures in registered dogs alone. This does not include preventative costs for cats and unregistered dogs, or treatment costs for pets that become ill.