Essex County Executive Joseph N. DiVincenzo, Jr. announced that 152 deer were removed from the South Mountain and Hilltop reservations during the county’s most recent deer hunt. That was fewer deer than the county had suggested marksmen would take when it held a press conference in mid-January to announce the hunt. The county had said then that the goal for this year’s hunt, which was held from January 31 to February 7, was to cull 115 deer from South Mountain and 80 deer from the Hilltop, or 195 in all.
The total this year was the smallest in the six-year history of the program. The Hilltop total included 61 deer and 29 unborn deer.
“During the six years we have conducted our program, we have removed over 900 deer from our reservations, started a program to accelerate the re-growth of our forests and introduced a pilot program to reduce traffic accidents involving deer. The over abundance of deer continues to affect our communities, and our program provides a comprehensive approach to address the problem,” DiVincenzo said.
Qualified volunteer marksmen were selected to participate in the program. All deer removed from the reservations were transported to a check station where county officials inspected the animals and collected information regarding age, reproductive status, gender and weight, as well as the number of shots fired. The deer were then transported by the county to a New Jersey Department of Health-approved butcher for processing. Venison was donated to the Community FoodBank of New Jersey in Hillside, which distributed the meat to the needy and homeless.