Wednesday, July 15, 2009

NEW JERSEY NEWS: Deer Reduction Sought in National Historic Park

The Morris County Park Commission and New Jersey Audubon Society are awaiting a reply from the National Park Service about sanctioning a deer hunt in Jockey Hollow.

David Helmer, the park commission executive director, and Thomas J. Gilmore, Audubon Society president, urged the hunt to reduce the area's white-tailed deer herd. They wrote on June 29 to Randy Turner, superintendent of the Morristown National Historic Park, which includes the 2,500-acre Jockey Hollow section.

Turner said Tuesday that Jockey Hollow is expected to get the initial funding for a three-year deer management study in the 2010 federal budget that begins in October. The funding depends on Congress and the president signing the budget, he said.

Jockey Hollow is adjacent to the Audubon Society's headquarters at the Scherman Hoffman-Wildlife Sanctuary and Morris County's Lewis Morris Park, where hunting is scheduled.

The Morris park commission's 2008-09 deer hunt resulted in the removal of 336 deer, up from 307 in 2007-08, a new report said [ed note: this is a removal of 86 deer per square mile!]. In 2008-09, 249 antlerless deer and 40 antlered deer were killed. Of that total, 68 deer were removed from Lewis Morris Park.

Charles Zafonte, director of natural resources and horticulture, said the 2009-10 schedule would include bow hunting in the Mahlon Dickerson Reservation, Old Troy Park, Tourne County Park and, for the first time, Jonathan's Woods.

The June 29 letter said adjacent municipalities allow hunts, leaving only Jockey Hollow without a deer management program.

"A deer management program at MNHP will greatly help to restore the natural and historic landscape the park is meant to protect," Helmer and Gilmore wrote.

The pair requested the National Park Service "accept its obligation to be a responsible neighbor" and take quick action to endorse a deer management program.

They cite the return of natural habitat and diverse animals to park lands where the deer herd has been culled, but also note in the past 15 years the Scherman-Hoffman sanctuary has lost 13 species of ground or shrub-nesting birds as deer have overbrowsed the landscape.

Jockey Hollow "has become the universal poster child for deer-damaged landscapes," Helmer and Gilmore wrote.

Source: Daily Record

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