The Hilltop and South Mountain Conservancies have started a petition to be sent to Essex County Executive Joseph N. DiVincenzo, Jr. regarding the possibility of canceling the county deer hunt.
As of now the hunt has not been canceled and no official decision has been made yet, said County Public Information Director Anthony Puglisi in a phone interview. The hunting season typically occurs in January and February he said.
A total of 274 deer were removed from South Mountain, Hilltop and Eagle Rock Reservations during the 2012 Essex County Deer Management Program, said DiVincenzo in a written statement. This was the fifth year that the program has been conducted.
According to a Star-Ledger report, the deer population in Essex County has been reduced to its lowest level in five years.
Still, the members of the Hilltop and South Mountain Conservancies feel the deer pose a threat to the ecosystem. As of Friday, the petition had 329 supporters.
“After several years of culling deer densities in our area have been reduced somewhat, but are nowhere near the 10-per-square-mile number needed to allow the forests and their ecosystems to regenerate,” the Conservancy organizations said in a written statement.
“We believe that stopping the culling, even for a year, is extremely ill-advised. 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,” they continued.
“Our comprehensive Deer Management Program has been very successful in controlling the deer population in South Mountain, Eagle Rock and Hilltop reservations,” said DiVincenzo. “However, at the conclusion of this year’s program, we announced that it was time to re-evaluate the need to continue culling deer.”
“As always, we gladly accept input from the community,” he added. “The information we obtain and various points of view we hear will help us make an educated decision about managing our reservations in the future.”