Essex County begins deer culling in South Mountain Reservati

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Essex County begins deer culling in South Mountain Reservati

Postby mergs » Tue Feb 10, 2009 8:58 am

Essex County begins deer culling in South Mountain Reservation
The Independent Press
Monday January 26, 2009, 3:45 PM


The South Mountain Reservation will be closed to the public on Tuesdays and Thursdays starting this week to allow hunters to conduct Essex County's second annual Deer Management Program to reduce the number of deer in the park.

This year's program will be held for 10 days over a five-week period on Tuesdays and Thursdays from Jan. 27, to Feb. 26. The program will not be rescheduled if it is cancelled due to inclement weather.

Last year's program culled 213 deer from the 2,000-acre Reservation. The goal this year is to remove at least 100 deer.

Essex is using the services of licensed, volunteer marksmen to cull the deer herd. A total of 20 marksmen who have demonstrated their skill and completed an orientation program are participating. They will be required to station themselves in trees at least 20 feet above the ground and will only be permitted to shoot at a downward angle. Half of the agents participated in Essex County's 2008 Deer Management Program.

All deer removed from the reservation will be transported to a checkpoint where they will be inspected for age, gender and weight. Deer will then be transported to an approved butcher and the venison will be distributed to the needy and homeless through the Community FoodBank of New Jersey. Last year, a total of 32,000 meals were distributed through shelters and soup kitchens. Marksmen who complete at least eight half-day shifts of volunteer service will receive 40 pounds of venison.

"We are not organizing a program for sport or recreational hunting. We are doing this as a way to save the reservation by reducing the deer population because there is a lack of natural predators," County Executive Joseph N. DiVincenzo, Jr. said.

The culling program is a controversial issue among some protestors, and this year West Orange withheld approval to hold the hunt in its portion of the park.

"South Mountain Reservation is being devastated by deer over-eating the vegetation. The destruction of the forest understory is creating serious erosion problems and has resulted in other native animals and plants disappearing," Mr. DiVincenzo said.

The county executive also noted that the growing presence of deer is a public safety issue, noting that 353 deer were killed in motor vehicle accidents on county roads in 2008 and 303 deer were killed on county roads in 2007.

The county executive said there is clear evidence that plant wildlife in South Mountain Reservation is being destroyed by the overbrowsing of deer. The loss of vegetation is having negative effects, including a declining number of animal species that rely on the plants for food or protection, a loss of new trees from growing, erosion problems, and allowing invasive plant species to grow.

He was supported in this interpretation by Wildlife Management Consultant Daniel Bernier, Troy Ettel of the New Jersey Audubon Society, and by Dennis Percher, president of the South Mountain Conservancy.

The county began a pilot program in July 2008 to install "Deer Deter" devices along a three-mile stretch of Cherry Lane that cuts through the Reservation. The devices emit a high frequency noise to scare deer and prevent them from running into traffic when sensors in the devices detect the headlights of approaching motor vehicles. The county has requested additional funding from the NJ Department of Transportation to expand the program to include additional roadways.

source: http://www.nj.com/independentpress/inde ... culli.html
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