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Essex County Scales Back Annual Deer Hunt

The county's deer management program is less than half last year's sessions; there will be no hunting in Eagle Rock Reservation.

The sixth year of Essex County's deer management program —slated to begin Jan. 22 — has been scaled back from previous years, County Executive Joseph DiVincenzo Jr. said Tuesday. 

The program has been reduced from last year's 24 hunting sessions in 12 days to nine sessions in six days. It will run from Jan. 22 to Feb. 7 on Tuesdays and Thursdays. 

Also this year, there will be no hunting in Eagle Rock Reservation.

"This program, in my mind, is more of a maintenance program each and every year just to maintain what we have,"  DiVincenzo said. "The numbers speak for themselves."

On county roadways, the number of deer carcases removed last year was down to 201, from 363 in 2011.

Verona Township Manager Joseph Martin said he thought the deer management program was "well thought out, well managed and effective."

"It was a difficult decision for the county to undertake but I feel that Verona has benefitted from it," he said Tuesday at a press conference in West Orange. 

But Mel Levine, the borough administrator for North Caldwell, said although the numbers for the county roads are down, accidents on local roads are up.

"The county has limitations and what we need to do as communities is create a working relationship with the county because no town could do this themselves," Levine said.

Hunting will take place at South Mountain Reservation on Tuesdays, Jan. 22 and Jan. 29 and Thursday, Jan. 24 in the afternoon only. It will be held in Hilltop Reservation and the old Essex County Hospital Center site in the mornings and afternoons on Thursdays, January 31st and Feb. 7 and Tuesday, Feb. 5.

Although the program dates have been reduced, there is still no limit to the number of deer culled by hunters. 

Fifteen licensed and specially trained hunters volunteered for the program this year, down seven from last year. The hunters will be perched in trees and must be at least 20 feet off the ground. 

According to county officials, over 75,000 postcards were mailed to notify residents living near the reservations of the program dates to ensure residents' safety.

Essex County Sheriff Armando Fontoura said there will be no overtime costs for police. 

After the deer are removed, DiVincenzo said, they are given to a state Department of Health-approved butcher and donated to the Community FoodBank of New Jersey in Hillside.

In 2012, 4,572 pounds of venison were donated to the food bank, which provided about 18,000 meals for needy families.

The county has also begun a replanting project in South Mountain and Eagle Rock Reservations. Forty-seven enclosures, 42 in South Mountain and five in Eagle Rock, with high fences to keep animals out have been installed to accelerate forest regrowth. NJ Green Acres funded the project. 

Since 2008, 1,368 deer have been culled from the three reservations, according to statistics provided by county officials. In 2012, 274 deer were removed, 339 deer were removed in 2011, 252 in 2010, 138 in 2009 and 360 in 2008. 

MAX 70 January 16, 2013 at 10:50 PM
People that do not hunt or spend time away from the computer do not understand. If you want nature to take care of it, it can happen let's bring some coyotes, cougars and trans plant some bears int this area! Then there really will be a problem! I grew in the reservation, going to camp there many moons ago. Spent time there in my teens. It's has changed a lot! There are rules about no bikes, and dogs are supposed to be on leashes! But people don't mind those rules. Hunting is the most economical, humane, and quickest way to maintain a healthy heard of deer. Drugs and traps are expensive and take time, manpower and then what do you do with a sterile(if it works) deer in a trap? Really people. This hunt helps people eat. It helps to reduce disease. Helps the forest to rebuild itself(with the help of humans, doing plantings). Seems to me to be a win, win,win situation.
Adam Kraemer January 17, 2013 at 12:11 AM
If we all get rid of suburban homes, roads, and all the things we associate with modern life and re-introduce wolves and other predators to Essex County (Lenape Nation) the deer population would fall to the appropriate sustainable level. I don't see that see that as realistic. I think the book of Genesis make a valid the point that people have dominion over the animals so a Jew I find the reference to what the Germans did offensive. That being said I don't take great pleasure in killing these majestic animals but this is the best alternative to live in the modern world and co-exist with the natural world or at least in our little part know as Western Essex County.
Sunny Forrest January 18, 2013 at 09:25 PM
Essex county is more urban than suburban now. Displaced city slickers who are shocked when they live near a reservation and see a deer in their yard. I've got an idea, why don't we pave paradise and put up a parking lot?
L R Jordan January 25, 2013 at 06:53 PM
"Displaced city slickers" generally eschew automobiles in favor of walking to their destinations, cringe at all the hideous parking lots, avoid new development luxury apartments and retail with their awful nail salons, unconscionable fur boutiques, and unimaginative, poor restaurants, and wrestle with the ugly and contemptible, never-ending sprawl, but, most especially, we are appalled by the shallow provincialism of those not-so-original inhabitants who continue to destroy the land they claim to love with the latter abominations not to mention (and, I will), more highways, more litter and dog excrement than could ever exist in a "slick" Gotham, and unsophisticated suspicions and bigotries regarding newcomers who are friendly, educated, enthusiastic, and hardworking, and who bring fresh life to their adopted towns. Moreover, it may be too late to restore Northern NJ to its bucolic past, however, this urbanite couldn't be happier living in a suburb with forests, fields, and fresh water, instead of the landfill, carpark, and garbage receptacle of its current incarnation. Unfortunately, this paradise, once Garden State, was paved over long, long ago.
Sunny Forrest January 26, 2013 at 02:59 PM
If you moved here from the big nearby city, most of which were not original inhabitants either, then you know the deer were the original inhabitants of this once "bucolic" area and not until the non-provincial term "landscape garden" became common that deer became the enemy of the locals (Johnny-come-latelys or not) whose bushes became more important than living, breathing life. I agree with a lot of what you said but I guess if I felt as you do I would be high tailing it back to the big city or if you really like "forests, fields and fresh(?) water" this area is not the place, you will have to go further west for that. I am sure with your level of sophistication you are not shocked when you see a deer if you live in close proximity of a reservation. They really come hand in hand.

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