Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Sharpshooters kill 213 deer in New Jersey

© Othmar Vohringer

The New Jersey Star Ledger printed an article about sharpshooters killing 213 deer in the Essex County's South Mountain Reservation, a 2,047-acre park surrounded by upper class housing. While I fully understand that deer herds need to be controlled if we ever to lower the deer/car accident numbers, especially in highly populated areas. I do however, object to the article writer to call the operation a hunt. Culling a deer herd with the aid of sharpshooters hardly can be called hunting and sure enough some of the responses to the article making now a direct connection between professional culling and hunting as one and the same.

On the other hand I wonder if it really was necessary to spend thousands of taxpayers dollars on this deer culling program. Reading the article and looking at a map of the park, this perhaps would have been a perfect situation to give bowhunters an special opportunity. At least this way it would actually bring money from the license sales. The culling caused a lot of controversy from some of the residents and most notably from the animal rights who came out in force to protest with their usual tear-educing-knee-jerk tactics.

Here I leave you with the full article by Elizabeth Moore

Essex County's South Mountain Reservation has 213 fewer deer after a monthlong hunt that ended today.
With no safety or security problems reported during the length of the hunt, county officials said they were pleased with the first year's results.

Since Jan. 29, a dozen volunteer sharpshooters have worked from tree stands at stations throughout the reservation to curb the deer population. The hunt took place on Tuesdays and Thursdays, though it was shortened from 10 days to 8½ because of inclement weather and the Presidents Day holiday.

"This program was a huge success," said Essex County Executive Joseph DiVincenzo. "We are 12 years too late. (If we had started 12 years ago), we would not have the problem we have today."

Sharpshooters exceeded the county's goal of culling 150 deer from the 2,047-acre park two weeks ago. County leaders and environmental groups say the deer have overpopulated the park, ruined its underbrush and are a nuisance for drivers and residents living nearby.

Dan Bernier, a consultant hired from Union County to oversee the hunt, said each of the animals killed was checked for age and gender to learn more about the population of the South Mountain herd. Yesterday, 22 deer were killed. One male and three females were killed in the morning session, and five males and 13 females were killed in the afternoon session.

Of the 213 animals killed over the course of the hunt, 88 were male and 125 were female. Nearly all of the does were pregnant, some with twins. Bernier estimated the culling prevented an additional 125 deer from being born in the reservation.

Though the county executive acknowledged he'd gotten phone calls and letters from residents and deer activists objecting to the hunt, he said the hunt wasn't something he wanted to do, it was something that had to be done.

The county executive estimated the cost of the hunt at just under $60,000, factoring in Bernier's contract, overtime for sheriff's deputies and park employees and the cost of butchering the animals. The venison -- estimated at more than 15,000 pounds -- was donated to the Community Food Bank of New Jersey.
DiVincenzo said he planned to bring the marksmen back to South Mountain, which stretches through South Orange, Maplewood, Millburn and West Orange, and to other parks in the future.

"There's a major problem in the entire county," DiVincenzo said. "I plan to expand it next year."

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Kris said...

I cannot figure out why they won't give these opportunities to bow hunters! You are right, this is not hunting, and I believe it gives us a bad reputation when it is equated with hunting!

SimplyOutdoors said...

I agree with Kris and with you Othmar.

I can never understand using taxpayer money to "cull" an overpopulated deer herd, when bowhunters from the area would pay to help eradicate the problem.

It's just silly.

Marc - Editor, NYBOWHUNTER.COM said...

I don't know why the state would pay sharpshooters to decrease the deer population when hunters would gladly pay the state to hunt the deer?

If the sharpshooters did volunteer, then NJ shouldn't have had to spend $60K on the project. It doesn't cost that much to butcher deer!

deerslayer said...

This has to be a great injustice to the hunters of N.J.. To think the State, County and City officals would rather pay shapeshooters to thin out a deer herd than allowing deer hunters too and to use taxpayers money to do this is literately outrageous. The use of taxpayers dollars wasted in such a way and I'm sure could have been put to better use elsewhere.

Othmar Vohringer said...

Thank you all for your comments. It seems I am not the only one that finds controlling deer herds with sharpshooters objectionable.

This is by no means a single case. It happens every year all over America and as hunters we should stay alert and put our opinions forward if this comes up in our communities.

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