Sunday, April 09, 2006

NEW JERSEY NEWS: Culling Plan Controversy

Cherry Hill Courier-Post Staff


Township residents upset by a potential deer hunt on 180 acres of fields and woodland around Springdale Farms organized a protest for today.

They'll gather at Kresson and Springdale roads in front of the woods where a hunt is proposed so motorists can see how close it would be, said animal rights activist Stuart Chaifetz, one of the organizers.

"We're trying to rally the people of this town . . . about what's going on," he said.

The protest comes before township council's Monday vote on an ordinance to allow depredation deer hunts to occur in Cherry Hill, which currently bans all hunting. The state Division of Fish and Wildlife issues permits for these restrictive hunts, which usually happen in the summer, only when there's evidence deer are damaging crops.

The measure would let Springdale Farms, the township's only commercial farmer, apply for a depredation hunt permit, said Mayor Bernie Platt, who noted the township can't apply for such permits.

Last year, deer destroyed between 40 and 100 percent of the Springdale Road farm's crops, said John Ebert, who co-owns it with his sister Mary Ann Jarvis and her husband, Tom.

Ebert said the family prefers deer fences over deer hunts, which he called a "public relations nightmare." Platt confirmed the farm got a township permit Monday for a deer fence on two sides of the 60 acres it owns. The township, which by deed maintains the fence on the other two sides, agreed Wednesday to replace it with a deer fence. Also, the farm will soon reapply to the township for a fence around the 40 acres it leases from the township.

"A depredation hunt would be a last resort," Ebert said.

The protesters worry a hunt is too risky in a suburban area. They say deer population estimates -- between 700 and 1,000 -- are exaggerated and believe a hunt would wipe out the herd.

"They shouldn't rush to pass this ordinance," said Robert Gloeser, whose Kresson Road home abuts the proposed hunt's area.

He said the township should commission a count of the herd. He's also concerned 450 feet around buildings and roads isn't enough of a buffer and thinks insured sharpshooters should be used rather than the retired police officers the township proposes.

Councilwoman Joyce Kurzweil said she respected people's rights to express their opinions, but noted "as an elected official, I have to look at the long-term solution and culling the deer population is part of that solution."

"Wildlife in suburban and even urban communities is becoming a challenge all over the country," she said. "What we have to do is be good stewards of the wildlife in our communities and that means looking at a comprehensive approach."

Reach Lisa Grzyboski at (856) 251-3345 or

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