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Vol. LXV, No. 38
Wednesday, September 21, 2011
Coldwell Banker Princeton Office

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N.T. Callaway Princeton Office

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Area Deer Herd Has Doubled, Is Ailing

Ellen Gilbert

Princeton’s perennial deer problem came to the fore at Township Committee’s Monday evening meeting, as Animal Control Committee member Dona Schneider described a recent increase in the local deer population, compounded by the spread of epizootic hemorrhagic disease (EHD).

It was emphasized that EHD, which is a localized virus that is spread among the deer through the bites of midge flies, is not a danger to humans.

Ms. Schneider cited the decision not to employ professional hunters last year as having “very unfortunate results.” With the local deer population down to 20 deer per square mile as a result of the previous year’s bow hunting and road kill, the Animal Control Committee had decided to “step back,” choosing not to renew their contract with deer management company White Buffalo.

As a result, Ms. Schneider reported, the current deer herd has doubled in number, with many needing to be put down because they were badly injured or had contracted EHD, which is also known as “blue tongue disease,” and was described as “very ugly.” The spread of EHD will end with the first heavy frost, she said, but that is still weeks away. Saying that “we need to get the deer population down,” Ms. Schneider recommended that the municipalities revive their contract with White Buffalo, and Committee members agreed to put $63,000 to cover the costs of deer control into next year’s budget.

Committeewoman Sue Nemeth asked for clarification about what happens to the meat from hunted deer, and was told that after being handled by a USDA- approved butcher, it goes to Hunterdon and Warren County soup kitchens.

Holding a hefty three-ring binder aloft, Health Officer David Henry described its contents: the Health Commission’s newly adopted wildlife management standard operating procedures. New protocols call for handling different species in different ways, he noted.

“From feral cats to snakes, we examined federal guidelines, and looked at federal and state endangered lists,” said Mr. Henry. He noted that the manual was drawn from “as many sources as we could find from throughout the country,” and that it should be considered “a living document” that will be routinely updated. New documentation includes a survey form that assesses how well the Animal Control Officer responded to specific calls. information on how to file reports online, and help in interfacing with other agencies. Currently, the public may consult any one of the several print copies of the manual held by municipal offices. Once it is converted into a PDF file, it will be put online.

In other actions Monday evening, the Committee agreed to table a Consent Agenda item approving Princeton University’s “sharrows” plan, pending additional discussion.

An ordinance to establish a 35-mile-per-hour speed limit on Cherry Valley Road was approved. Township Engineer Bob Kiser noted that the new speed limit would affect the entire length of Cherry Valley Road, from Province Line Road to Route 206, and that Montgomery Township was passing a similar ordinance for their share of the road. The presence of drainage ditches, “numerous curves,” and narrow stretches were cited as reasons for reducing the speed limit, which is currently 40 miles per hour. It was noted that in bad weather conditions there are numerous accidents on the road.

Mayor Chad Goerner suggested that passage of the new speed limit was not “a random act,” but one that had to be supported by data in order to be implemented.

The Monday meeting began with a moment of silence for Michael Kenwood, the Princeton First Aid and Rescue Squad member who died in the line of duty recently during Hurricane Irene, and for former Township Police Chief Anthony Pineli, who died on September 10.

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