Section 97 Blue Hills Reservation Survey
The University of Massachusetts shall select an independent scientific organization to conduct a study and survey of the environmental health of the Blue Hills Reservation, which shall include: (i) the forest, including plant, animal and insect life, and any contributing factors responsible for any decline in forest health; (ii) the effect of ecological and climate change; (iii) the effectiveness of controlled public hunting in culling the deer population; (iv) the effectiveness of the Blue Hills Reservation deer management program in culling the deer population since 2015; and (v) recommendations to ensure improvements in the environmental health of the reservation. The study shall include the physical tagging of deer for purposes of population surveying; provided, however, that methods may include but shall not be limited to (i) fixed-wing aircraft or unmanned aerial vehicles using aerial photography and downward-looking thermal imaging; and (ii) distance sampling using driving transects and spotlights.
The University of Massachusetts shall select an organization to conduct the study and survey within 6 months after the effective date of this act, and the independent scientific organization shall report its findings and data in the form of a report and survey, which shall include proposed recommendations and the costs associated with those recommendations, to the department of conservation and recreation and the department of fisheries and wildlife within 4 years following the start of the study.
There shall be a moratorium on the Blue Hills Reservation deer management program and any controlled deer hunting in the reservation until July 31, 2021.