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UPDATE: Eight Hunters Have Removed 22 Deer; Hunt Began Jan. 9 in Lenape Park

The county is hoping to remove 125 from the local, county park. What's your opinion of the hunt? Answer the poll question below.

The Union County Department of Parks and Community Renewal has released details of its annual Deer Management Program, which for the first time will tackle the problem of deer overpopulation in Lenape Park.

On the first day of the hunt, which began Jan. 9, eight hunters have already removed 22 white-tailed deer from the county park. This program will continue next week on Wednesday, Jan. 18, due to the observance of Martin Luther King Jr. Day on Monday.

Since 1995, marksmen in the County of Union’s state-approved deer management program have reduced the population of white-tailed deer in the Watchung Reservation substantially. Last year, that effort was expanded to remove deer from portions of Passaic River Park in Summit.

Union County has received complaints about deer-related impacts from residents around Lenape Park for several years. The Cranford Environmental Commission, the Cranford Tree Advisory Board and the have all expressed concern for damage to and loss of landscape vegetation and a fear of Lyme disease. Browsing for food by large numbers of deer has caused a loss of forest understory, especially in Lenape Park and Nomahegan Park, and threatens the survival of the plant and animal communities that are important to the ecology of these parks.

In 2009, the township of Cranford asked that the county investigate the extent of deer overpopulation in Lenape Park and take the appropriate steps to reduce the deer herd. Forest ecologists recommend a density of 20 deer per square mile in a healthy hardwood forest and as low as five per square mile in a forest that has been heavily damaged by browsing. Spotlight counts conducted by the county in April of 2010 and April of 2011 showed deer densities in excess of 300 per square mile.  An analysis completed by the county two weeks ago shows that roads bordering Lenape and Nomahegan Parks had some of the highest numbers of deer-car collisions in the county over the past year.

Lenape Park covers 403 acres, or about 0.63 square mile, in the townships of Cranford, Springfield and Union, the borough of Kenilworth and the town of Westfield. During this initial effort, it is hoped that 125 deer will be removed from Lenape Park.

Hunting in Lenape Park will occur on the five Mondays from Jan. 9 to Feb. 6. In the event of inclement weather on a Monday, the hunting activity may be moved to Wednesday that week. Hunters will be in the park from 5 a.m. until after dark, but shooting may only occur during daylight hours.

Ten volunteer marksmen have already been chosen by the county from among the most experienced participants in past years of the Watchung Reservation deer management program. The licensed hunters will be wearing orange hats or vests and will hunt the deer from elevated positions, at least 20 feet up in the trees, over baited sites.

The hunters may keep any deer carcasses that they harvest. All other deer will be processed at a USDA-approved butcher. Venison will be distributed to the needy and homeless through the Community FoodBank of New Jersey.

Anyone found hunting on any Union County park property outside the terms of this program will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. Citizens observing any such illegal activity are urged to immediately contact the Union County Police at 908-654-9800.

The public should note that Lenape Park will not be closed during the deer management program. However, park patrons are urged to stay on the paved paths and to keep pets restrained on a leash.

The Union County Department of Parks and Community Renewal will distribute information about this deer-management program to households surrounding Lenape Park. For further information, contact the Union County Department of Parks and Community Renewal at (908) 789-3682, or visit the Union County website at ucnj.org.

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Nancy Welch January 12, 2012 at 11:24 PM
Nightmares-living near the parks ?????? I have had families of deer in my yard, and I certainly do not consider them a nightmare. And yes--I live near Echo Lake park, and close to both Lenape and Nomahegan ! And only blocks from the parts of Mountainside across the highway that have totally obliterated any deer territory there was in the Watchung Mountains. Watchung Mountains.
Michele January 13, 2012 at 02:22 PM
No Jim it does not mean that there are not being enough deer hunted. Every year in the reservation they would take more and more deer but that 5 year hunt keeps going on. What this means is that hunting has not worked. Nature takes care of the loss of the animals by reproducing even more. Do you realize how many of the does carry twins after their numbers are depleted? By the way, I am frequently at the stables up in the reservation and all this talk about the "understory" being eaten away is trash. I am there (not just driving through) several times a week, all year round. The understory is doing just great. That being said, I agree that something needs to be done for the sake of the deer and thier well being.
Michele January 13, 2012 at 02:25 PM
Tom, I'm sure that Nancy DOES oppose the "far more heinous acts" that you talk about. Just because she feels the hunt is disgusting does not mean that she is unaware of ALL the heinous acts humans incur.
Michele January 13, 2012 at 02:31 PM
Vin, I'm curious! Just what kind of nightmares are they causing you? Have they broken into your home? Thrown a molotov cocktail through your window? Threatened you with a knife? Mugged you? Stolen your money? Raped one of your loved ones? Those things are what I call nightmares. I get deer in my backyard and the worse "nightmare" they have caused me is they chewed the heads off a few of my tulips. You need to live where there is no wildlife to annoy you Vin but take note - move to some of those areas and you can worry about the HUMAN wildlife and the nightmares they will give you.
Nick s January 13, 2012 at 05:07 PM
LOL the survey is all a lie.... Theres no 300 deer in the park.... Its the hunters fault there on this side of 22.... You tree huggers are so simple.... Nature deals with it?? How so? If more deer are born each year than that die what is nature handling? Rocky is 100% right with this information. As a hunter, everything he said Ive heard before. Hunters call the deer disease "black tongue" spread by a biting bug usually attaching to the inner nostrils of the deer. It severly dehydrates the deer and has been known to cause madness in some deer. A majority of the infected deer are found dead near a water supply.
Nick s January 13, 2012 at 05:18 PM
They should construct a 10 foot fences around the park because a deer can jump a 6 ft fence. Spray the fences and surrounding neighborhoods with food repellants, better yet use a crop duster plane. They should close the surrounding area roads from dusk-dawn so no deer get hit by cars. We should plant tulips, apple trees and corn all thoughout the park. State hunting in NJ should be ilegalized and punish hunters are if deer are humans. So what if they estimate 110,000 deer in NJ with 55,000 killed annually. In 2 years there be quarter million deer roaming the state getting hit by cars daily and I will finally be happy.
Michele January 13, 2012 at 05:20 PM
Don't know where you live Nick but there are not 300 per square mile in Lenape or Nomahegan. I live in the area. As far as your admiration of Rockies statement goes he is not on target. In particular his statement "The numbers have to be kept in check and culling the herd" is wrong. Please note that some years ago they started what was supposed to be a 5 year cull in the Watchung reservation. That hunt has been going on now for 20+ years because hunting the pregnant does (they are now pregnant which is why they try to eliminate them at this time of year) NEVER works. To the surprise of the powers that be in Union County the more they hunted, the more the herds grew. It is natures way of making up for those slaughtered.
Michele January 13, 2012 at 05:33 PM
Nick, I don't know what the answer is but it is not hunting and the prolonged hunt in the reservation has proven that. Your proposal of course is juvenile and I know you know it. By the way in regards to the understory that Rocky and others have mentioned: I am up at the reservation several times a week year round. It's just fine. It is also just fine in Lenape and Nomahegan. That being said I wish there was a legitamate solution to help control the deer.
Michele January 13, 2012 at 07:40 PM
For those who think that hunting is the only answer please note the following that I copied from - idausa.org/facts/deercontrol Present Wildlife Management Practices Wildlife and land management agencies purport to effectively limit deer populations to numbers sustainable by their natural habitat. In reality, the policies of such agencies exacerbate deer overpopulation, serving only to provide a population large enough to suit sport hunters. The overpopulation of deer stems not only from the specific mismanagement of deer populations, but from the mismanagement of our forestlands and natural areas. Hunting does remove some animals from the population, but it does not keep deer populations at a continually reduced level. Immediately after a hunt, the remaining animals flourish because less competition for food exists, allowing the remaining animals to live healthier lives, and resulting in a higher reproductive rate.
theo Robinson January 14, 2012 at 06:16 PM
Venison steak is a great meal combined with a glass of red wine after cleaning my gun.
Laura Van De Water January 14, 2012 at 11:49 PM
theo I am sure that you can find some nice homeless man to share the venizen dinner with. I mean with the 200,000 dollars it cost to run the deer hunt the homeless could have really been fed! Not the lie they are feeding us. Maybe a photoshoot with the homeless eating deer meat could be captured by the Star Ledger!
Michele January 15, 2012 at 12:11 AM
Laura, how right you are! Please note that on the one hand there is so much talk of giving the venison to the homeless. On the other hand there is talk of how "diseased" the deer are. Obviously the slaughtered deer are going in the garbage. It is a disgrace on the part of the county parks Department and cranford.
Laura Van De Water January 15, 2012 at 12:15 AM
Not to mention the fact that the deer hunting in Watchung began as a group of corrections officers wanting to hunt! Originally had nothing to do with overpopulation!
Joe January 15, 2012 at 07:30 PM
Nancy, are you kidding? What do you eat for dinner...berries and lettuce? Hunting has been around since the dawn of man, you are being ignorant to the fact that it's a way of life. Just because they aren't being sent to a slaughterhouse does not mean it's disgusting. Deal with it.
Monk January 15, 2012 at 08:14 PM
Michele, couldn't my post mean I admired Nancy's fervor?
Michele January 16, 2012 at 02:13 PM
Tom, if you say that what you meant by your statement was that you admire Nancy's fervor then good for you. I was not sure how you meant it but agree with what Nancy said and I too admire her fervor.
Joe January 18, 2012 at 11:44 PM
Any updates from todays hunt will be greatly appreciated. Thank you
Joe January 18, 2012 at 11:52 PM
Venison is good all the time, steaks, ribs, even stew meat!! Laura, where did you get that $200,000 figure as the cost to run the hunt?? I find that extremely hard to believe. Also you say "the fact that the deer hunting in Watchung began as a group of corrections officers wanting to hunt! Originally had nothing to do with overpopulation!" I never heard this "fact" either. Crying, whining, and falsifying stories is going to do nothing to stop the hunt. Theres nothing you can do but accept that this is the only way to handle the situation. Dont sit there and criticize hunting when you have no alternative solution.
vin debono January 26, 2012 at 02:09 PM
If it were left up to Michele and others with that attitude, we'd also be trying to save the mosquitos. Afterall they have so much in common with the deer, they eat, breed, and spread disease. But to the mosquito's credit, they don't cause traffic accidents or leave piles of waste in our yards.
Michele January 26, 2012 at 02:47 PM
Vin, you are the person who, in a previous post indicated that the deer caused you " nightmares". I'm sure you saw my response to that comment. There are many people who live in crime ridden neighborhoods who would give their right arm to live where you live and have your deer "nightmares". Also, you must have missed the poll results where out of over 900 votes 756 agreed with me. I can only qoute the words of a great man, person with more wisdom then you or I or anyone else commenting here: "Until we respect ALL life we are still just savages" - Mahatma Ghandi.
Nancy Welch January 26, 2012 at 10:50 PM
Michele I reaslly wish I knew you--I feel we would have a good deal in common besides our aversion to the deer hunt ! And thank you for repeating a wonderful quotation !!!Trouble is, as always, the people who need to read and take to heart such things are the ones who never do.
vin debono January 27, 2012 at 02:36 PM
Ghandi has nothing to do with the deer problem, he's been dead for over 60 years, deer probably had natural predators back then. One should never compare philosophy with reality. If anyone had done any research, instead of quoting Ghandi, they would have discovered this reality.In this country last year there were 1.5 million reported accidents involving deer, damages exceeding 1.1 billion dollars. There were over 10,000 reported injuries, including 202 fatalities. If that's not enough there were also 35,198 cases of lyme disease, including 4,973 in NJ. Maybe we should poll these people about thining the deer population.
Michele January 27, 2012 at 06:16 PM
Thank you Nancy. That was a very nice thing to say and it made my day.
Michele January 27, 2012 at 06:32 PM
There are many great people who have left this world but there words live on and influence people to this day. It is always a wise thing to remember and even quote the words of good people. Yes there are accidents with deer but the real danger on the roads is from texting, speeding, careless drivers. Take a look at those stats. As far as lyme disease goes it is a tick borne disease and although the tick is now known as the deer tick that tick can be found on birds, mice, squirrels and any animal that spends its life outdoors. I guess in your world we would have to get rid of them too.
con January 29, 2012 at 02:48 PM
There is close to 300 deer if not more I seen it if you go to the side of lenape behind auto land when it snows they group up back there and run in hundreds. Its a shame because during the rest of the year union county does nothing to stop illegal pochers that hunt back there while kids are walking around I came back once and somone killed 4 deer and cut out small pieces and left the whole deer there for sport. There being regulated illegally belive me and there also is 2 piebald deer which is mostly all white deer (which now are probably dead) back there I've easily spent half my life back there. All the people who are hunting back there now "legally" are all related/ and or cops. I feel mixed about this situation.
Michele January 30, 2012 at 04:41 PM
I understand you're ambivalence. And you are correct. People have been hunting illegally there. They think it's fun. A few years ago the cops caught an 18 year old, driving out from behind Williaims nursery. Since it was late and he should not have been there they pulled him over, saw his shotgun and he then confessed to shooting the deer. I hope that the Piebald deer were not killed. I've seen them and find them especially beautiful.
Rem December 30, 2012 at 02:21 AM
New to this post and being a hunter for 40 years i have seen the devastation from animal overpopulation. Short range elevated bow hunting is the best and lowest cost effective way to help solve the problem and believe it or not we are also helping strengthen the remaining herd. Hunters helping the hungry have supplied plenty of food for the hungry and have also payed to have some of it butchered after the state moneys run out. Now if you do not eat any kind of meat what so ever i do not want to hear any conflict about hunting and consuming what i harvest. Unless some one can come up with a better way of reducing the herd why not utilize the bow hunters to help with the problem and make it mandatory that all useable meat be used for soup kitchens and the homeless. Arguing about this does not solve the issue at hand.
Sunny Forrest January 18, 2013 at 09:00 PM
Rare white deer killed by Union County hired hunter in previous hunt. Perfect example of lack of scruples in hunting community.
Sunny Forrest January 18, 2013 at 10:17 PM
Oops my bad. Wrong year same @#$. Same goes for 2013 though. To be continued.....
Rem January 18, 2013 at 11:42 PM
Unfortunately the reduction of deer for this year and for next will necessitate the harvest of pregnant does because this hunt is to reduce the population for now and later a strategy can be designed to keep the herd population healthy and in check.

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