March 6, 2016

Local Deer Hunts

Faye Hochberg '18

There are many reasons to be proud of New Jersey. The Garden State is filled with great people, delicious food, top­-notch schools, tons of entertainment and so much more. Like any other situation, however, there are problems; problems that continue despite negative media attention, protests and other maneuvers to attempt to prevent them.
One of these issues to plague New Jersey is the controversy surrounding deer.
Some may wonder how there can be controversy over an innocent species that mind their own business. That is a valid question, but it has gone virtually ignored among those in charge. In the South Mountain reservation, located in Millburn, Maplewood and West Orange, the towns have been organizing “Deer Hunts” to dwindle down the amount of deer in the town and the surrounding areas.
The proponents of the Deer Hunts claim that there are too many deer in the reservation and that the natural deer predators no longer exist in local reservations. They claim that the deer kill off too many small animals, cause car accidents and create problems for the growth of vegetation in the reservation.
Essex County consultant Dan Bernier said that environmental and ecological concerns are the main reason for the Essex County Deer Management program. Bernier addressed the issue during a January 19 press conference in West Orange.
“It is not to provide recreation for hunting,” he said, “but rather curtail over­browsing of native vegetation and allow forest restoration.”
From 2008 to 2014, 1,670 deer were “removed” from the Reservation. Although the authorities use the euphemism “removed, what they are referring to is that deer are being shot by hunters. The hunters position themselves in trees 20 feet above the ground and shoot down at the deer.
There are many people who are against the deer hunts and feel that it is cruel.
“There should definitely not be deer hunts in New Jersey,” said sophomore Jessie Ruchman. “Deer are already commonly dying because of getting hit by cars, not having a home and not being able to find food, so killing them would be completely unnecessary as well as immensely inhumane.”
Like Ruchman, fellow sophomore Rachel Bonder is opposed to any purposeful animal killing.
“Killing for sport is disgusting,” Bonder said. “You can shoot other things without ending someone’s life.”
Sophomore Iris Berman echoed these sentiments.
“This brutality is unacceptable,” she said, and added there is a kinder gentler way to cull the deer population.
Animal rights groups opposed to culling deer by hunting propose alternate solutions to deer slaughter including injecting them with contraceptives, sterilization and possible transportation or relocation to other areas. These groups state that studies suggest that deer response to a cull is increased fertility with the deer producing more twins and triplets with a greater birth rate of female fawns which will obviously lead to a higher deer birthrate in the long term.
This controversy has been going on in Essex County and across the state for many years and it will most likely continue as both sides have valid arguments.


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