Press Releases

Bristol/DEM co-op aims to reduce deer population in town

The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management, in partnership with the town of Bristol, will open four (4) parcels of town-owned property to archery deer hunting in an effort to reduce the deer population:

  • Minturn
  • Hopeworth
  • Skater’s Pond
  • 100 Acre Woods

The growing deer population has created a nuisance for many homeowners who have complained about deer causing damage to their gardens and other property. In addition, the number of deer vehicle collisions and has significantly increased over the past few years, calling attention to the rising number in the herd.

Bristol has one if the highest deer vs vehicle collisions per square mile in the state.

Rhode Island DEM works to protect and enhance wildlife habitat in Rhode Island to ensure healthier, more diverse, and abundant wildlife populations and is responsible for managing deer across the state to ensure their population remains healthy and stable.

DEM’s Principal Wildlife Biologist Dylan Ferreira has worked with Bristol Town Officials to develop the cooperative that will help to control the deer population in town.

“In some instances, especially in urban areas with no or very limited hunting, deer populations can begin to exceed cultural and biological carrying capacity. Legal regulated hunting is the main way state agencies manage deer populations across the country,” Ferreira said. “Opening new town properties to hunting like Bristol is doing is a great step to reduce the population in Bristol and reduce the negative impacts associated with over-populated deer, such as deer vehicle collisions and private property damage.”

Hunting has a long tradition in Rhode Island, supporting family customs, connecting people with nature, and attracting tourism to the state. Hunters provide funding for wildlife conservation through their purchase of firearms and ammunition through the Wildlife and Sportfish Restoration Program, and through the purchase of their state hunting licenses.

“Hunters and anglers purchase around 70,000 licenses, permits, stamps, and tags each year and contribute more than $235 million to Rhode Island’s economy,” Ferreira said.

Deer hunting season in Rhode Island, for archery, begins September 15 and runs through January 31, 2024.

Below are some Frequently Asked Questions regarding archery deer hunting in Bristol.

  • Where are the designated town-owned hunting areas?

There are four (4) town-owned properties where archery hunters will be allowed to harvest deer.

Minturn (Click to view a map of the area >)

Approximately 50 acres situated east of the former landfill, located between Tower Street to the south and Berry Lane to the north.

The area is accessible from Tower Street where on-street parking is available.

Hopeworth (Click to view a map of the area >)

Approximately 65 acres situated on the north and south sides of Hopeworth Avenue, extending to the north past Roosevelt Drive, and south to Clipper Way.

The areas are accessible from Hopeworth Avenue and from the public boat ramp parking area located on Annawamscutt Road.

Skater’s Pond (Click here to view a map of the area >)

Approximately 40 acres situated to the south of Gooding Avenue, and east to Metacom Avenue.

The area is accessible from Peter Road where parking is available.

100 Acre Woods (Click to view a map of area >)

Approximately 150 acres situated north of Tupelo Street to Elmwood Drive, extending east to Metacom Avenue and west to the neighborhoods at Deer Run, Echo Farm and Elm Park Farm.

Parking and access is available at the east end of Elmwood Drive, the west end of Jameson Road and the west end of San Francisco Avenue.

View the RIDEM map here >

  • What are the boundaries of the designated hunting areas?

Within the designated hunting areas, RIDEM has placed the boundaries in the map mentioned above. Hunters can use this map on their smart phone to determine their location in relation to the property boundary to prevent them from inadvertently crossing into prohibited land.

Under Rhode Island State Hunting Laws, archery hunting within 200 feet of an occupied dwelling is prohibited without written permission.

Deer hunting on private property requires written permission of the property owner.

  • Will arrows reach my property?

Hunting laws prohibit the discharge of arrows within 200 feet of an occupied dwelling to minimize the possibility of an errant arrow entering private property.

Additionally, most archery hunters utilize deer stands placed 10 or more feet above the ground. Arrows shot from tree stands have a downward trajectory that will strike the ground before they reach any distance.

  • Who can hunt in the designated areas?

Anyone who possesses a valid Rhode Island hunting license and deer tag is permitted to hunt.

All licensed hunters are required to pass an archery hunter education course before they can purchase a hunting license and deer permit.

Hunters are also required to obtain an Archery Proficiency card .

Licensed hunters under the age of 16 years old must be accompanied by a licensed hunter 21 years of age or older.

RI DEM will oversee the hunting activity on town-owned land in Bristol in the same manner in which hunting is permitted on state property.

  • Do hunters need to obtain permission from the Town of Bristol to hunt on town-owned land?

Through a Memorandum of Understanding between the State of Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management and the Town of Bristol, the designated hunting areas will be open to archery deer hunting with the RI DEM establishing and enforcing laws and regulations.

No additional permissions from the Town are needed. RI DEM indemnifies and holds harmless the Town of Bristol in case of any injury resulting from hunting use of town property.

All rules and regulations regarding deer hunting can be found by clicking here.

  • Will hunters harvest game other than deer in these areas?

No. This special cooperative agreement is limited to archery hunting for deer only.

  • Will hunters use shotguns or other firearms to hunt?

No. This special cooperative agreement is limited to archery hunting, including crossbow.

  • Do hunters need to reside in Bristol?

No. Hunting is open to anyone who is legally licensed and permitted to hunt in the State of Rhode Island.

  • When is deer hunting season for archery?

Deer season runs from September 15, 2023 through January 31, 2024. Hunting is permitted one-half hour before sunrise to one-half hour after sunset.

  • Do hunters need to check-in/out before and after a hunt?

No. Environmental Police Officers will patrol the designated hunting areas to enforce legal and safe hunting practices as they do on other state owned and other Cooperative Properties.

Hunters do not have to check-in prior to entering the hunting areas but are expected to exercise safe hunting practices and act in the best interest and safety of all by self-limiting the number of hunters in any one area.

Harvested deer are to be tagged and reported to RIDEM.

  • What should I do if I see a hunter or injured deer outside of the designated hunting areas?

Remain calm.

Most hunters are law-abiding, respectful stewards of our natural resources, keeping safety as the number one priority when practicing the sport of hunting.

If a hunter appears lost, please offer your assistance to direct him/her to their destination.

If you encounter a hunter who is outside the designated hunting area while in the process of tracking an injured deer, please allow him/her any necessary access to your private property to ensure the animal does not suffer and the hunter is able to properly transport the carcass.

In the unlikely event you encounter an injured deer, do not approach it.

Take note of its locations and call RI DEM Division of Law Enforcement by calling 401-222-3070.

If you have questions regarding hunting rules and regulations, please contact the Department of Fish and Wildlife at 401-789-0281.

To report hunting violations, please contact the DEM, Division of Law Enforcement at 401-222-3070.

NOTE: These areas are also open to hikers and other allowed non-hunting uses.

Under Rhode Island DEM Regulations, non-hunters who choose to enter these designated hunting areas are required to wear 200 square inches of solid daylight fluorescent orange from the second Saturday in September to the last day of February.