Essex County Executive Joseph N. DiVincenzo, Jr. announced on Wednesday that 274 deer were shot at South Mountain, Hilltop and Eagle Rock reservations during county’s deer hunt in January and February, down from 339 in the 2011 hunt. The focus of this year’s deer program was the Verona Hilltop, and marksmen did take the bulk of the deer there. The county said that there were 102 deer and 52 unborn deer taken from Hilltop, compared to 50 deer and 29 unborn deer at South Mountain and 23 deer and 18 unborn deer at Eagle Rock. In the five years of the hunt, the deer population has been reduced by 1,363 animals.
DiVincenzo said that the county will soon conduct an aerial survey of the three parks to determine the size of the deer population. Based on those results, the county may decide to suspend the hunt in 2013. “We know we have reduced the population and conducting the surveys will determine what we will do in the future,” DiVincenzo said in a statement. “Our decision will be based on the numbers we get back.”