Untitled Document

PRESS RELEASE

December 3, 2012

ESSEX COUNTY FREEHOLDER BRENDAN GILL CONVENES
DEER POPULATION CONTROL COMMITTEE MEETING;
NO DEER HUNT AT EAGLE ROCK RESERVATION IN 2013

Although the 2013 Deer Management Plan has not been finalized, it will not include Culling in Eagle Rock Reservation

(Newark, NJ) – District 5 Freeholder Brendan W. Gill of Montclair, Chairman of the Freeholder Board’s Deer Population Control Committee, convened a meeting of his committee on Thursday, November 29, 2012, at the Hall of Records.  The meeting was attended by committee members Freeholders Rufus Johnson and Leonard Luciano, as well as Deputy County Administrator Alan Abramowitz, Director of Parks Daniel Salvante, Environmental Affairs Coordinator Tara Casella and Daniel Bernier, the County’s Wildlife Management Consultant.

Early in the meeting, Freeholder Gill acknowledged that the Administration had not yet finalized its deer management plan for 2013, but when he asked consultant Daniel Bernier if a continuation of the hunt in Eagle Rock Reservation would be included, Bernier responded, “By no means is the deer count low enough at Eagle Rock, but there don’t seem to be enough deer there right now to warrant the cost involved in securing the park and getting hunters in there … (so) it will not be in the proposal for 2013, although we will continue to do spotlight counts of deer in the Reservation.”

Director Salvante gave an overview of pertinent statistics, including the fact that a total of 2,654 deer have been removed from county property since 2008 (818 culled, 545 unborn fetuses, 1,291 killed in vehicle accidents on county roads).  He also pointed out that the success of the County’s deer management program (whether due to culling or to the effectiveness of roadside reflectors) was manifested in the reduction in the number of deer killed on county roads: 182 (2012), 233 (2011), 229 (2010), 283 (2009), 363 (2008) and 303 (2007).

Bernier discussed the various elements of the deer management program and emphasized that the hunting aspect “…is not in any way intended to provide recreational sport.”  He added, “The hunt is intended strictly for the purpose of deer management, and has three goals: to preserve bio-diversity in the county’s woodland and fields (especially its parks) by allowing for forest re-generation to reverse the damage done by the over-browsing of deer; to provide aesthetic and financial relief to homeowners whose landscaping has been damaged by deer; and to reduce the threat to public safety caused by deer-related motor vehicle accidents.”  He also discussed the extensive efforts to notify the public of hunts, the stringent rules in-force to make the hunt as safe as possible, as well as the effort to use skilled and experienced marksmen and to include as many Essex County resident marksmen as possible.

Bernier also responded to questions from Freeholder Gill, other freeholders and members of the public about alternative population control means besides hunting.  Regarding “trap-and-transfer”, he pointed out that it was attempted years ago in Essex County and failed; that is very difficult to accomplish, logistically; and that it often results in the death of deer from trauma and injury anyway. He also discussed the current impediments to the use of fertility control/immunocontraceptive drugs such as PZP and GonaCon: legality – the State requires that deer first must be captured, the drug must be administered by veterinarians, and permission must be granted in writing from all property owners within 2,000 feet of the designated darting area if the deer are to tranquilized prior to inoculation; cost - recent analyses indicate the cost to be $1,000 per deer, and likely higher here in Essex County, due mostly to the mandated participation of veterinarians; and application, the most problematic of all -  90% of the female deer must be immunized, they must be captured, tagged and kept track of to know when they must be re-treated, and they must be treated at least every year, if not every year.  He went on to add that even if all of these impediments were to be worked out, the use of these drugs will only “…allow you to maintain a population at or close to what it currently is; what it will not do is reduce the population.”  “So, if you have too many deer already, fertility control agents are not going to bring that population down for at least ten years.”

Freeholder Gill emphasized the importance of moving forward with forest regeneration efforts and asked, “When are we going to reach the point where the number of deer is low enough that we won’t need to hunt anymore?”  Bernier answered by saying that forest ecologists generally say a population of 20 deer per square mile will permit a healthy forest to survive, “…but, your forests are far from healthy and current research suggests you probably need to get the density down to about 5 per square mile in order for forest regeneration to really have the opportunity to succeed.”  At the current rate, he indicated that the hunt in South Mountain Reservation would probably have to continue for another 2 or 3 years, that it would take longer at the Hilltop Reservation, and that at Eagle Rock, perhaps a hunt every other year for a while would suffice.

Parks Director Salvante said he expected the 2013 deer management proposal to be completed by the end of December, after which it would be presented to County Executive Joseph N. DiVincenzo, Jr., for discussion, and then to the Freeholder Board shortly thereafter.

 

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For Additional Information:
Gary Kroessig, Public Information
Essex County Board of Chosen Freeholders
973-621-4452
Gkroessig@freeholders.essexcountynj.org

 

 

Board of Chosen Freeholders, County of Essex
Hall of Records - Room 558, 465 Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Blvd., Newark, New Jersey 07102
Tel: (973) 621-4486 Fax: (973) 621-5695