Petition To Keep Deer Hunts


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Deer in Verona’s Elk Road woods in January 2011

After years of vocal efforts to block the deer hunts in several Essex County parks, this may come as a surprise:  The volunteer groups that handle much of the conservation work at Verona’s Hilltop and the South Mountain Reservation are circulating a petition to not end the hunts.

Theresa Trapp, treasurer of the Hilltop Conservancy, and Dennis Percher, chairman of the South Mountain Conservancy, say that while the deer populations at both parks have been reduced, they are still “nowhere near” the 10 deer-per-square-mile density needed to allow the forests and their ecosystems to regenerate. “We believe that stopping the culling, even for a year, is extremely ill-advised,” the two said in a statement. “With no natural predators in our area (wolves, mountain lions, black bears), deer populations will continue to expand unless the County actively reduces the herds.”

So the conservancies have set up an online petition for voting-age residents to tell Essex County Executive Joseph N. DiVincenzo Jr. to continue the deer culling program. You will be asked to sign with your name and address, but there is a box to check if you want that information kept private from other Web site visitors. The organizers say that if multiple people in your household want to sign, just close your browser after you sign with your own e-mail address, and then have other signers open a new browser session and sign with their e-mail addresses.<

Essex County said in March 2012 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. 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. The county conducted two surveys in March, on the ground and with low-flying helicopters equipped with infrared scanners, to assess the remaining deer populations.

You can access the petition here.

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  1. According to the latest forest service research, deer densities at 10 per square mile or under are too low for good forest regeneration, allowing for heavy underbrush development. Just right densities range from about 15 to 28 deer per square mile. Reference: March 31, 2012 NRS Research Review, No. 16, Spring 2012

  2. Kent,
    I am sure those numbers are correct for the state forest. I am assuming a park inside a suburban community cannot sustain the same deer population and be healthy for the deer. I would expect the deer per acre ratio to be lower in a habitat like mentioned in this article than one in a state forest. Just a thought.


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