By a large majority, Town Meeting voters Thursday night said no to an article that would have banned bow hunting on all town land.
The article was brought forward as a private article by residents who opposed a deer hunting program run by town officials last year.
Supporters of the ban argued, in part, that the deer-management program restricted the use of conservation land and that reducing deer herds would not reduce the number of Lyme disease cases in town, as suggested. Opponents of the article, which included hunters who participated in the deer-hunting program last year, disagreed and also talked about other benefits of the program, which included helping to protect saplings from being eaten.
"State wildlife experts have calculated that deer herds are three times as dense as sustainable," Gail Ralston, a member of the Conservation Commission, said. "We have been informed by the state forester that our forests are not regenerating hardwoods because of over-browsing by deer. The forests are not in a sustainable state and are dying."
High Street resident Justin St. James supported a ban, arguing that the hunting program was an easy, and ineffective, way of dealing with problems in town.
"By the town's own numbers, the present policy will not curb Lyme disease or deforestation," St. James said. "A yes vote (on the article) will require the town to do its homework finding real, affordable solutions to those problems."
With the Town Meeting vote against a ban, another deer-hunting program could occur later this year.
For more on this story, see the May 5 print edition of the Andover Townsman.