Deer Hunt Returns To Hilltop


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Essex County will once again conduct a hunt in Verona’s Hilltop Reservation to reduce the deer population there, beginning on Thursday, January 16. The hunt will continue on Thursdays, January 23 and 30 and February 6, 13 and 20, with make-up days on Thursdays, February 27 and March 5 if any previous dates are cancelled. The county will also hold a hunt in South Mountain Reservation, but not in Eagle Rock Reservation this year.

Since 2008, the county has culled a total of 2,670 deer (1,682 deer and 988 unborn deer) from the reservations, using volunteer marksmen. They are licensed by the state, have demonstrated their marksmanship and have completed an orientation program with the Essex County Department of Parks, Recreation and Cultural Affairs and the Essex County Sheriff’s Office. When in the reservations, the marksmen station themselves in trees at least 20 feet above the ground and only take shots at a downward angle.

The Hilltop Reservation and Cedar Grove Park north of the Verona Pool parking lot will be closed to the public on the days the program is held. All deer removed from the reservations are inspected and the venison is donated to the Community FoodBank of New Jersey in Hillside, which distributes the meat to the needy and homeless. Since 2008, a total of 47,075 pounds of venison have been donated to the FoodBank, which equates to more than 168,000 meals.

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