Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXI, No. 33
 
Wednesday, August 15, 2007
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Township Hall Offers Tough Talk, but Renews Bow Hunting Contract

Matthew Hersh

Township Hall reluctantly signed on to another season of bow hunting as a method employed by the municipal deer management program, with Committee members reasserting past concerns that state mandates have exerted a stranglehold on the Township's conduct of the program.

On Monday, Princeton Township Committee gave a unanimous nod to the use of the services of the United Bow Hunters of New Jersey in the 2007-2008 deer management program, although the program has been, according to Township officials, largely ineffective compared to other methods used, such as contraception and sharp shooting.

The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection's Fish and Game Council requires the municipality to employ UBNJ as part of its general deer-culling program. However, in recent years, Township officials have cited increasing concern over the efficacy of the bow hunting component, as well as worries over potential safety hazards posed by bow hunters working on public parkland.

The Township contracts with UBNJ, at no cost to the municipality, to hunt on 290 acres of Township parkland that includes the Autumn Hill Reservation, Fieldwood, Woodfield, and Stony Brook/Puritan Court areas of the Township.

And while the yield in deer deaths caused by bow hunting has been considered disappointingly low by members of Township Committee, Township officials conceded that its seven-year program using the Connecticut-based contractor White Buffalo, Inc. could not continue without UBNJ's involvement. The bow-hunting organization is unaffiliated with White Buffalo.

Now in its fourth year, the bow-hunting campaign has removed 22 deer, while the contraceptive measure has removed nearly 600 deer, according to Deputy Mayor Bernie Miller, who added that the Township has been "very fortunate" in the lack of injuries caused by errant arrows.

Mr. Miller, who has voted against the bow-hunting measure in past years, urged members of Committee to work with the DEP to eliminate the program. "These are our parks, it's our program, and it is done in a professional manner. We've had enough. The bow-hunters have made virtually no contribution and it's time to stop this game."

If the Township were to eliminate UBNJ from its deer management plan, DEP would likely turn down the Township's application to carry out its plan, according to Township attorney Edwin Schmierer. "I'm quite certain if we eliminated the program this year, we would have our application denied."

Tom Poole, who chairs the Township's Deer Management Evaluation Committee, called on the Township to challenge the state in retooling its requirements for municipal deer management. UBNJ took six deer in 2006, and none in 2005.

"We need to tell them to take more deer, and if you can't we'll replace them," Mr. Poole said, adding that a "well-organized group of hunters" could one day replace White Buffalo.

Mayor Phyllis Marchand said while she agreed with the concerns over the efficacy of UBNJ, she said she did not want to jeopardize the relationship with White Buffalo, citing the long-range success of the deer management program.

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In other news, Jennifer L. Lacovara was sworn in Monday night as a Princeton Township Police probationary patrol officer. Said Ms. Marchand: "I remember when having a woman on the police force was a rarity. We're happy to have you aboard."

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