SECTION 1. Section 59 of chapter 131 of the General Laws, as appearing in the 2016 Official Edition, is hereby amended by inserting after the word “advisable”, in line 7, the following words:- and in accordance with any municipal ordinances or by-laws pertaining to hunting.
SECTION 2. Said section 59 of said chapter 131 is hereby further amended by inserting after the word “areas”, in line 26, the following words:- ; provided, however that said agency or subdivision shall consult with affected municipalities and shall abide by municipal ordinances and by-laws relative to hunting within such municipality.
SECTION 3. Said chapter 131 is hereby amended by inserting after section 59 the following section:-
Section 59A. The division of fisheries and wildlife and the department of conservation and recreation shall conduct annual population surveys on land owned by the commonwealth where the division or department determines that overpopulation may be effecting health and stability of the ecosystem, to identify areas in which overpopulation is negatively impacting forestation, water resources or plant growth on department-owned land; provided, that said survey shall include, but not be limited to, fixed-wing aircraft or UAVs using aerial photography and downward-looking thermal imaging and distance sampling using driving transects and spotlights. The division and the department shall develop and implement a population management plan for any identified areas of overpopulation, including but not limited to areas with deer populations exceeding 50 deer per square mile. The plan shall: (i) include tagging and tracking animal populations identified in the population survey as in need of overpopulation management or reduction; and (ii) limit all population management and control activities to non-lethal and contraceptive practices. The division and the department shall review the plan annually and may update the plan as necessary based on the results of any population survey conducted pursuant to this section. Any fees collected as part of the population management plan shall be used to fund the plan. Notwithstanding section 59, hunting shall not be used as a means of addressing overpopulation or as a part of any population management plan pursuant to this section.
The division of fisheries and wildlife and the department of conservation and recreation may promulgate regulations as necessary to carry out this section.
SECTION 4. Chapter 286 of the acts of 2014 is hereby amended by striking out section 43.
SECTION 5. The division of fisheries and wildlife and the department of conservation and recreation shall conduct an initial population survey pursuant to section 59A of chapter 131 of the General Laws not later than 180 days after the effective date of this act.
SECTION 6. The division of fisheries and wildlife and the department of conservation and recreation shall develop and implement a population management plan pursuant to section 59A of chapter 131 of the General Laws not later than 90 days after the completion of the initial population survey required pursuant to said section 59A of said chapter 131 and section 5 of this act.
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