Extend Deer Hunting Season for All, Officials Request
Bernards Township Committee revises request for to include all hunters.
As part of the township's deer management program, the deer hunting season for all local hunters, even on private property, may be extended this year from Feb. 18 to March 31, if Bernards' application with the state Division of Fish and Wildlife is approved.
With the township's deer management program having a record of reducing the local deer population and number of deer-vehicle collisions by 69 percent since 2001, the township expected approval for its annual application to extend deer hunting season for specified hunters on 38 township properties.
But Township Committeeman John Carpenter reported at Thursday's Township Committee meeting that this year that permission was denied.
Instead, Carpenter said Susan Predl, principal biologist for the New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife, questioned the township about not meeting goals or the need to revist goals for reducing the deer population.
Predl recommended some revisions, and on Thursday night those recommendations were approved. In past years, the township requested permission for members of two hunting clubs only to hunt for the extra weeks on township-owned properties.
If the new application is approved, Carpenter said any properly licensed hunters would be able to hunt deer on any property, even private land, as long as they have the property owner's approval.
All regulations and licensing requirements that apply during the regular season would carry over into the extended period, he said.
"I think this will help us keep those auto collisions [with deer] in check," Carpenter said on Thursday.
An earlier report from the Bernards deer management committee said that the number of deer hunted in the past year was off by 12 percent, down to 374 from 436, even as the the township's deer population has continued to decline.
Overall, there are indications that there are far fewer deer in the township than in the past, Carpenter, the Township Committee's liasion to the deer management advisory committee, said last summer.
"I can remember a time when you couldn't drive at night without dodging deer," Carpenter said on Monday night.
"If it wasn't for this sanctioned program, there would be thousands and thousands and thousands more [deer]," said Leon Harris, the deer management committee's chairman, said last summer.
About 90 percent of the deer culled are butched and sent as edible meat to the Somerset County food bank, said deer management committee member Curt Graham.