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First-ever deer hunt is planned at World’s End in Hingham

World's End in Hingham will hold its first deer hunt in December in an effort to cut back the park's burgeoning deer population.
World's End in Hingham will hold its first deer hunt in December in an effort to cut back the park's burgeoning deer population.Peter Marotta

Ten hunters with shotguns will take part in the first-ever deer hunt at World’ End, the 450-acre coastal park in Hingham owned and managed by The Trustees conservation group.

The controlled hunt is scheduled for Dec. 2 and 9, and the property will be closed to the public those days, according to Trustees spokesman Aaron Gouveia.

The goal of the hunt is to reduce and control the World’s End deer population, which has been skyrocketing and damaging the habitat of the scenic peninsular property, according to Trustees’ ecologist Jeff Denoncour.

He said that in 2002, there were no deer in World’s End; the latest count from a month ago found 61 deer – far above the density of six to nine deer recommended by state wildlife experts for an area that size.

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The overabundance of deer has led to less vegetation at World’s End, which in turn has hurt other creatures on the food chain, Denoncour said.

“World’s End contains a really diverse array of habitat that supports more than 300 species of wildlife – 48 species of butterflies, which is really remarkable, and 236 species of birds,” Denoncour said. He said there are three rare or endangered species at World’s End: a bat, a moth, and a type of grass.

All that flora and fauna is threatened by the growing number of deer, he said.

Denoncour said the Trustees haven’t targeted a specific number of deer to kill over the two-day hunt, adding that he anticipated the hunt would become an annual event until the deer population was under control. “We’re not expecting we will solve this year one,” he said.

The Trustees allow deer hunting – mostly by archers and by permission only – on 32 of their 120 properties; in 2019, 100 deer were killed, he said.

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Hunters participating in the World’s End hunt must follow strict safety rules and pass a shotgun proficiency test, proving their ability to cluster a group of shots within a nine-inch circular target from 40 yards.

World’s End’s history goes back to the end of the Ice Age, when receding glaciers created four hills sticking into what is now Hingham Harbor. The hills initially were islands at high tide, but Colonial farmers dammed the salt marsh to connect the islands with dry land where they grew hay for their livestock.

In the 1800s, John Brewer acquired most of the peninsula and built a grand farming estate, before hiring famed landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted to design a residential subdivision at the site. Four and a half miles of tree-lined paths were built, but the planned 163 houses never materialized.

Two other failed plans would have changed the property even more dramatically. In 1945, World’s End was proposed as the site of the United Nations, and 20 years later a utility company proposed putting a nuclear power plant there.

In 1967, the Trustees – then known as the Trustees of Reservations – bought the property, protecting it from any future development.

The Trustees now want to protect the park and its panoramic view of the Boston skyline from the deer.

Johanna Seltz can be reached at seltzjohanna@gmail.com.