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Deer Committee Calls for Increased Measures for Cull

Matthew Hersh

Citing a negligible decline in deer-related accidents in the area, Princeton Township's Deer Program Evaluation Committee has recommended that a new sport-hunting committee be created to address overpopulation within the herd.

A report submitted to Township Committee says that since the128 accidents in 2003 and the 52 accidents in 2004 are more than twice than what they "should" be, the deer committee has proposed that the Township reduce its dependence on paid shooters and rely more heavily on a combination of road kills and sport hunter harvests.

Township Committee has recently expressed its disappointment in the United Bowhunters of New Jersey for yielding a deer cull of only nine this past season.

The deer committee suggested implementing controlled hunts in the Township, pointing to similar successes in Montgomery Township and the Baldpate Mountain county park in Hopewell Township. While Deer Committee Chairman Thomas Poole conceded that those communities do not have much in common with the Township's hunting environment, he said that similar programs can be drafted to fit Princeton's geographic specifications.

Additionally, Mr. Poole said that while sport hunting would incur costs to the Township at the onset, it would ultimately save the money spent bringing in professional herd management.

White Buffalo, the Connecticut-based deer management firm that conducts the Township's deer immunocontraception program, will return to work at the end of the month to inoculate female fawns.

Further, White Buffalo has killed 1,181 deer by way of sharpshooters, captive-bolt guns, and drop nets in a program that began in the winter of 2001.

The original five-year goal of the Township was to bring the deer population down to 350, or approximately 20 deer per square mile as described by the Township in its target density. The deer committee recommended taking a town-wide count in late December and another in May, saying that if the herds in specific target area are less than 130, the Township should rely only on sport hunting and road kills, and need no longer employ White Buffalo.

This past year, the report says, sport hunters killed a total of 80 deer, as compared to 110 in the 2002-2003 season, and 133 in 2001-2002. The evaluation committee said White Buffalo's culling impacted the reduction in deer taken by hunters.

The report recommended that if a sport hunting committee were to be formed within the Township, it should comprise hunters, police, a Township staff member, the Animal Control Officer, an individual familiar with a controlled hunt, and both a landowner who allows, and one who does not allow, hunting on their properties.

The report did say, however, that without proper oversight, sport hunting can be ineffective. Hunters at the Institute Woods, the report said, had a disappointing winter because they are "not likely to embrace a program of herd reduction," adding that those who hunt for sport "want more deer" rather than fewer.

Township Committee is expected to review the recommendation and address the issue at a future meeting.

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