The Hinesburg and LaPlatte Headwaters town forests will both be closed to non-hunting recreational use from Oct. 1-3, Oct. 22-31, Nov. 13-19 and Dec. 4-12.

These closures are an effort to use hunting as a management tool to promote healthy forests by reducing the number of deer, according to Hinesburg Town Forest Committee member Pat Mainer.

What’s the problem with having a lot of deer?

According to Chittenden County Forester Ethan Tapper, “Other than the threat to the herd itself, as we experienced in the late 1970s, the main issue is that in winter a deer eats, or browses, 6-8 percent of its body weight, about 10 to 15 pounds of buds and twigs, per day. Where the deer population is dense, browsing has a massive influence on the composition of the forest, as they devastate the species they like to eat, such as like sugar maple, red oak, yellow birch and white ash, and ignore those they don’t, like beech and invasive plants. This promotes a less diverse, less resilient forest with less high-quality wildlife habitat, including for deer themselves.”

These dates capture the opening and closing weekends of archery, rifle and muzzleloader seasons.

The opening days of each hunting season are the times when hunters are most successful, and archery and muzzleloader seasons are important in that these are the times when antlerless deer can be harvested, which is the best way to lower the populations of deer, according to wildlife biologists, Mainer said.

Trails will be open to recreation on all other days, although it is strongly recommended that everyone wear blaze orange clothing and stay out of the woods as much as possible for the duration of rifle season.

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