Friday, January 25, 2008

NEW JERSEY NEWS: Cull Underway in Essex Co. Reserve

Sharpshooters will take to the trees next Tuesday in the South Mountain Reservation in Essex County to deal with a problem that has become the scourge of many suburban communities: too many deer.

The 10-day hunt in the 2,000-acre reservation, a picturesque area of woodlands, streams and trails, is scheduled to start on Jan. 29 and continue every Tuesday and Thursday, 5:30 a.m. and 8 p.m., through Feb. 28.

Proponents of the hunt say it is necessary to thin the number of white-tailed deer because they are destroying the vegetation and becoming a hazard for motorists.

"I don't own a gun. I'm not a hunter. It's not something that I want to do, but it's something I have to do," said Essex County Executive Joseph N. DiVincenzo Jr., who pushed for the hunt.

The state Department of Environmental Protection and leaders of the four municipalities around the reservation have signed off on the hunt. But animal rights activists have criticized it; they prefer a nonlethal alternative such as contraceptives. And some residents worry the shooting will be too close to homes and businesses.

During the hunt, a team of 15 volunteer hunters who've gone through a special training course will be allowed to shoot deer from perches in trees, although only 12 will be allowed in the reservation at one time.

Notices warning residents about the hunt have already been mailed out, and DiVincenzo has been meeting with residents in the communities bordering the reservation -- Maplewood, Millburn, South Orange and West Orange -- to address safety concerns.

The last of those meetings is scheduled for noon Thursday in West Orange.

On hunt days, roads going in to the reservation will be closed off, and people won't be allowed to enter.



zoomzoom04 said...

how do i get one of these special hunting permits. i've been hunting in new jersey for 25 years and i would like to participate in this hunt the next time it comes around, this location is alot closer than my regular hunting property in warren county.

Tom Rooney said...

The short answer is "I don't know." I recommend talking to the park manager or supervisor--they can at least point you in the right direction.