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Township Renews Bow Hunting

Matthew Hersh

Princeton Township Committee voted Monday night to continue its bow hunting deer program for the third year in a row, while some members continued to worry about the danger of bow hunting in public spaces.

The 4-1 vote allows a maximum of 14 bow hunters from the United Bow Hunters of New Jersey (UBNJ) to continue hunting on 290 acres of Township parkland. In 2004, the count included five hunters in the Autumn Hill Reservation, one hunter in Fieldwood, five hunters in Woodfield, and three hunters in the Stony Brook/Puritan Court area. The hunters are restricted to work from tree stands during daylight hours only.

Bow hunters killed 15 deer last year, according to Township Attorney Ed Schmierer. And while the Committee has repeatedly expressed disappointment in the UBNJ for yielding a low deer cull this past season, the New Jersey Fish and Game Council requires that a bow-hunting element be included in municipalities' deer management programs.

Deputy Mayor Bernie Miller, who cast the lone dissenting vote, and has voted against the bow hunt in past years, said allowing bow hunters to enter public parks designed for passive recreation posed a public hazard and could lead to dangerous accidents.

"The intent of the parks is to provide a place for adults and children to find a quiet, peaceful environment and to enjoy the scenery.

"I'm concerned about the possibility of someone using the parks having an accident."

Mr. Miller said that while the Fish and Game Council has required bow hunting it was "time to stand up to the state.

"The bow hunters have not made a significant contribution to the reduction of the deer herd."

Committeeman Bill Enslin agreed, though he supported the resolution, saying the danger in the parks was not as great as some may perceive. "I don't think any member of the community should have any doubt of safety," he said, adding that the bow hunters were "professional and well-trained."

But Mr. Enslin echoed the need to create a dialogue with the state regarding the need for the bow hunting provision. "If it's still viewed as an important part of our approval process, then I would like to see us spend some time on looking at private properties where we can divert the bow hunters away from our parks."

Committeeman Bill Hearon said there had yet to be reports from residents of dangerous situations related to the bow hunting program. He added that bow hunting should be kept available to the Township as one of the tools for thinning out the deer herd.

Mayor Phyllis Marchand said she would not want to risk losing state funding because the Township excluded bow hunting as part of its arsenal against deer overpopulation. She added that the bow hunters may be needed in the future to maintain the deer herd.

"We have been very lucky and I would hate to jeopardize our program."


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