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Essex County Provides Results on 2014 Deer Management Program at South Mountain and Hilltop Reservations

Cynthia Cumming

Wednesday, March 19, 2014 • 12:48am

WEST ORANGE, NJ - 155 deer were removed via the 2014 Essex County Deer Management Program at South Mountain and Hilltop Reservations during the 2014 initiative, announceed the office of Essex County Executive Joe DiVicenzo.  The number represents 108 adult deer and 47 unborn deer.

This year's program was impacted by snowstorms that caused the cancellation of two days of operations but the county was still pleased with the efforts to curtail the deer population.

“The overabundance of deer continues to affect of our communities, and our program provides a comprehensive approach to address the problem. During the past seven years, we have conducted a culling program to maintain the size of the deer herd, started a program to accelerate the re-growth of our forests and introduced a pilot program to reduce traffic accidents involving deer,” DiVincenzo said.

“Snowstorms and frigid temperatures caused us to reduce the number of days this year, but the results we saw indicate how important it is to continue so that we can preserve the forest habitat and maintain our reservations as viable resources for recreation and open space,” he added.

108 deer were remved along with 47 unborn deer. Despite cancellations due to snow, the program was executed at South Mountain Reservation, Hilltop Reservation and the old Essex County Hospital Center. South Mountain Reservation is located in Maplewood, Millburn and West Orange, and Hilltop Reservation is in Cedar Grove, North Caldwell and Verona.

SInce 2008 1,670 deer (1,030 deer and 640 unborn deer) have been removed by qualified marksmen from South Mountain Reservation, Hilltop Reservation, the Old Hospital Center Site, and Eagle Rock Reservation. The Essex County Sheriff's Office coordinated with local police departments to ensure the safety of the residents.

After processing by county officials and the NJ Department of Health, 2,577 pounds of venison was donated to the Community Food Bank in Hillside for distribution.

Replanting programs continue in South Mountain Reservation and Eagle Rock Reservation. Forty-seven enclosures (42 in South Mountain and 5 in Eagle Rock) are currently being tended to reintroduce native vegetative species into the reservations.  The areas are protected by 8 foot fences to prevent foraging by deer and other animals. The fences are espected to remain in place for 25 years.

The planting project was funded with grants from the NJ Green Acres program received by the South Mountain Conservancy and the Eagle Rock Conservancy and grants from the Essex County Recreation and Open Space Trust Fund.

Although the county now requires local townships to remove deer from county roads, the program also seeks to prevent automobile accidents involving deer. Essex County received grant money from the Dept. of Transportation to "install detection devices that reflect motor vehicle headlights and emit a high-pitched noise to scare deer away from the road when cars approach."

Reflectors are installed along Cherry Lane, Brookside Drive, JFK Parkway and Parsonage Hill Road in Millburn, Livingston and West Orange. 

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