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    Blue Hills deer hunt returns for 3rd year, with more acreage open

    Signs were posted last year to mark the deer hunt at Blue Hills Reservation.
    John Tlumacki/Globe Staff
    Signs were posted last year to mark the deer hunt at Blue Hills Reservation.

    The deer hunt at Blue Hills Reservation in Milton will expand in 2017, with five times more archery hunters than last year and hundreds more acres for both archery and shotgun hunters to hunt on.

    The controlled deer hunt, a program designed by the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation and the Department of Fish and Game, was first implemented in 2015 to allow a limited number of hunters to kill deer at the reservation.

    In 2016, the program was expanded to add 15 archery hunters to the roster of 117 shotgun hunters in order to increase the number of deer being culled, according to the 2016 Blue Hills Deer Management Plan.

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    Still, the deer population remained high in 2017.

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    “Although some progress has been made, overall deer densities within the reservation for a healthy forest are higher than the acceptable range of 6-18 deer per square mile, which necessitates the need for continued deer management,” DCR spokesman Troy Wall wrote in a statement e-mailed to the Globe.

    This year’s hunt will include 75 archery hunters on 790 acres, according to the executive summary of the Blue Hills 2016-2017 Deer Management Program Report. That’s more than three times the 226 acres allocated last year.

    There will also be 133 shotgun hunters on 4,026 acres in 2017, as opposed to the 117 allowed on 3,495 acres in 2016.

    Shotgun hunters will take to the reservation on Nov. 28, Nov. 30, Dec. 5, and Dec. 7, the summary said. Archery hunters will have 11 days in designated areas on Mondays through Thursdays between Nov. 6 and Nov. 22.

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    Animal rights activists in the past have criticized the hunt, but the state maintains such culling is necessary to protect the reservation’s forest.

    High deer populations inhibit forest regeneration, because deer feed on seedlings, according to the executive summary. Large populations of deer can also lead to the spread of invasive species and significantly reduce biodiversity.

    The DCR and Fish and Game will host a public meeting Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. in the Milton High School auditorium to discuss deer population surveys, the hunt, and the deer management plan for this year.

    Alyssa Meyers can be reached at alyssa.meyers@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @ameyers_.