In 2010, Providence Water began a white-tailed deer management program on a portion of the watershed property in Scituate. A prominent feature of this effort is controlled deer hunting through a permit system supported by the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (RI DEM). The goal of the hunt is to reduce the size of the deer population for the benefit of the entire ecosystem, not to provide recreational opportunities for hunters.
A healthy deer population will always be desirable on the watershed property, but deer overabundance has become a problem as it has throughout southern New England and many areas of the Northeast. Repeated deer browsing has long-term negative effects on native tree seedlings, shrubs, and wildflowers. The resulting lack of young tree seedlings limits the forest's ability to protect water quality in the event of a disturbance such as a hurricane, fire, or insect outbreak. The forest is most resilient when deer impacts on vegetation are reduced and many different types and sizes of plants can grow without being eaten. Providence Water has been working with the USDA Forest Service to develop and implement a vegetation monitoring system to evaluate the success of the program. It will take years to see results and for the ecosystem to rebound. Monitoring results are used to help inform modifications to the controlled deer hunt.
Plans for the 2017-18 deer hunting season are in development. Several sections of the property will be open to individual hunters. A number of additional areas will be designated for archery and muzzleloader hunting only for small groups of individuals. Permit holders for all areas have been selected through a public lottery application. Hunters are required to follow all State hunting laws and additional rules that apply to hunting on Providence Water land. People interested in deer hunting on the Providence Water property should check this page for updates.
- 2016-17 Individual Permit Area Hunting Requirements
- 2016-17 Group Permit Area Hunting Requirements
- Deer and Forests, and the People Who Love Them