Thursday, January 22, 2009

NEW JERSEY NEWS: Essex County Contemplates Repeat Cull

Phyllis Kessler was driving past a northern New Jersey shopping mall a few years ago when five or six deer darted into the street. Almost all made it across - except the one under Kessler's front wheel.

She called the police, who shot and killed the injured animal as she stood nearby.

"It was terrible," Kessler recalled.

Such incidents could decline if local officials have their way. For a second year in a row, Essex County plans to use trained marksmen to help thin the deer population of a 2,000-acre land preserve in northern New Jersey.

The 10-day hunt in the South Mountain Reservation is designed to cull white-tailed deer, which reproduce quickly and are a problem for many New Jersey communities because they ravage vegetation, cause traffic accidents and carry ticks that spread Lyme disease.

Essex County Executive Joseph N. DiVincenzo Jr. said the hunt will be held from Jan. 27 until Feb. 26.

DiVincenzo said the area "is being devastated" by the hungry animals.

This year's hunt is not unexpected. Last year, DiVincenzo said it might take several years to thin the herd to about 60 deer - the number of deer he said the area can safely handle. Editor's note: that's about 20 per square mile and about the right number of deer. The goal this year, he said, is to kill at least 100.

Last spring, volunteer marksmen killed 213 of the hundreds of deer estimated to live in the preserve. Of those, 88 were pregnant females.

Most of the meat from last year's hunt was donated to the Community FoodBank of New Jersey. DiVincenzo said the meat would again be donated there this year.

The preserve borders hundreds of high-priced homes in the thick of the country's most crowded state and residents and animal activists have objected to the hunt.

"It's so wrong on so many levels," Angi Metler, director of the New Jersey Animal Rights Alliance, said Thursday.

Deer-culling, as it's known, has stirred controversy in other states. A lawsuit was recently filed in a Detroit suburb to stop a herd-thinning program. Last year, near San Francisco, protesters rallied against a deer-culling program there.

Jeff Tittel, director of the New Jersey Sierra Club, said his group supports sharpshooting as a tool for population control but would also like to see a strategy that incorporates non-lethal tactics.

A total of nine municipalities in New Jersey have deer-culling programs, according to the Department of Environmental Protection.

A more natural way, he noted, is to have predators in the area. But Tittel doesn't expect that anytime soon.

"I don't think anyone wants wolves and mountain lions" in northern New Jersey, he said.

Source: Newsday


Jake Freivald said...

The hysteria over the hunt has been... well... hysterical. Not in a funny way, either. As my midwestern relative told me, "This is the kind of thing that makes us make fun of New Jersey."

I posted my contribution to the discussion here:

Anonymous said...

I am a hunter and have been doing so for many years I dont have a problem with thining the herd the problem I have is driving thur the reservation during the days of the huny and every police car I see is running wasting gas and the officers in the vehicles sleeping when they are suppost to be on patrol so nothing happens to anyone wandering or not reading signs I dont like to my taxes wasted paying someone to sleep I dont getpaid at my job to sleep I dont think it is right and I think something should be done about that please comment if you think it is wrong
thanks for reading
fellow outdoorsman