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(Photo courtesy of Princeton Township)

DEER TO BE RECKONED WITH?: Some Borough residents feel there is a deer problem within their municipal borders, but any deer management has been virtually exclusive to Princeton Township, which just completed a five-year culling program.

A Problem for Both Municipalities? Deer Herd Knows No Town Boundaries

Matthew Hersh

Township Deputy Mayor Bernie Miller put it bluntly, and best, two Sundays ago during a campaign speech at the Suzanne Paterson Center: "Like it or not, we're two municipalities joined at the hip," he said.

And so we are.

With 15 municipal departments and agencies shared between Princeton Borough and Township, including the Fire Department, the Recreation Department, and the Library, both towns not only share the same resources, but are also, by virtue of their geographical ties, subject to similar natural issues as well.

At Borough Council last Tuesday, one resident of the eastern section of Princeton Borough addressed Council to see if there was anything that could be done to avert the family of deer that routinely makes its way through his yard.

In fact, the deer herd is known to make rounds in several points in eastern Princeton Borough, such as the Riverside and Littlebrook areas, and have caused a stir among Borough property owners. While long identified as an issue in the Township, the deer herd is not commonly associated with the Borough.

But clearly, the deer herd is not exclusive to the Township, a fact recognized by Councilman Roger Martindell.

"It seems to me, that one way to solve the problem is to have an agreement between the Borough and the Township," he said.

"If we in the Borough, inside the Township line, do not talk to the Township and say 'we have a specific herd that we need to have dealt with,' then that herd is going to be in our backyard longer than we are," he said.

Mr. Martindell, whose property abuts the Township line, said the situation is not uncommon for Borough property owners who would prefer that the municipality deal with the deer in some capacity, perhaps not as extensive as the Township program, which just concluded a five-year program at a cost exceeding $1 million, but in a more cooperative sense.

The Township's deer management firm, the Connecticut-based White Buffalo Inc., uses both net-and-bolt culling methods as well as a birth control vaccine.

Mr. Martindell envisioned a scenario that could be applied to some "appropriate" neighborhoods. "The western section, the Riverside area, and the Littlebrook area, are obvious candidates," he said in a separate interview, adding that he had been approached by neighbors who expressed an interest in some sort of action.

"It's a reasonable question, and I think it bears some discussion," he said.

Township Mayor Phyllis Marchand guessed that there could be a way in which the two Princetons worked in concert on a deer plan.

"I don't see any reason why that couldn't be arranged. If they're interested, I'm sure that Tony DeNicola would be very willing to see how he might wrap them into what they're doing," she added, referring to the White Buffalo president.

"Basically the Borough has got a problem," Mr. DeNicola said, adding that many of the deer captured in the Township actually live within the Borough's municipal line.

"I don't have opinions about how people should manage or not manage their deer: the issue is if you don't manage deer in the Borough, we can't manage them in the Township," he said.

Mr. DeNicola added that there are "several" deer that are tagged living around South Harrison Street and points west toward the Princeton University campus, adding that deer herds to the north toward the Princeton Shopping Center are "quite active."

Mark Johnson, animal control officer for Princeton Animal Control, agreed a joint plan would benefit the community, saying that most of the areas that impact the Borough would be managed by birth control, and not other culling methods.

"But I'm told they don't have deer in the Borough," he quipped.

Incidentally, the Princeton Animal Control department is also a joint-municipal agency.

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