Tuesday, March 18, 2014


NJ.com reports:

More than 100 deer were killed during Essex County’s annual hunt at the South Mountain Reservation and the Hilltop Reservation. In a statement, Essex County Executive Joe DiVincenzo, Jr. touted the success of the program, an effort to protect plant life and to reduce the number of deer-related car accidents. 

The hunt took place during the last two weeks of January and the first two weeks of February. Even though two days were called off due to snow, the number of animals culled increased from last year. The final tally for 2014 was 108 deer. Last year, it was 104. 

The program, which was introduced in 2008, has thinned out the herd. Over the past six years, hunters have killed more than 1,000 deer. Although the population is falling in the nature preserves, DiVincenzo said that there’s more work to be done regrowing forests and keeping the roads safe.

“The overabundance of deer continues to affect our communities and our program provides a comprehensive approach to address the problem,” said DiVincenzo, in the statement. “Snowstorms and frigid temperatures caused us to reduce the number of days this year, but the results we saw indicate how important it is to continue so that we can preserve the forest habitat and maintain our reservations as viable resources for recreation and open space.”

The South Mountain Reservation sprawls across Maplewood, Millburn and West Orange. Hilltop Reservation covers a swath of Cedar Grove, North Caldwell and Verona. Some residents of those communities expressed concerns about safety when the program was launched in 2008 but no accidental shootings have been reported since the initiative began, county officials said. 

When marksmen enter the woods, all roads and parking lots in the reservations are closed to the public. Some streets near the parks are blocked off as well and the Essex County Sheriff’s Office teams up with local police departments to oversee the hunt, according to the statement.

The deer were checked, weighed and transported to a butcher, according to the statement. More than 2,500 pounds of venison were donated to the Community FoodBank of New Jersey. Each hunter who volunteered five half-day shifts of service received 40 pounds of venison.

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