Hopatcong Council Introduces Deer Ordinance
Thursday, July 12, 2012 • 7:17pm
HOPATCONG, NJ – Deer may be hunted during the state-sanctioned season if the borough council schedules a deer hunt.
Council introduced an ordinance at their Wednesday night meeting allowing the borough to issue permits for bow hunting on municipal land should it be deemed necessary.
The ordinance was the result of months of meetings of the Deer Task Force which included council members, wildlife professionals and residents, Mayor Sylvia Petillo explained.
It met with objections from a number of audience members, but Petillo called it a “living document” that could be amended if necessary. She said the task force will continue to meet.
John Rogalo of Stanhope, the vice president of the New Jersey State Federation of Sportsmen's Clubs said he was concerned the ordinance was “a knee-jerk reaction to public complaints.”
He said state statues allow recreational hunting on public land and he believes the council should not restrict hunting in Hopatcong to bow hunting.
Petillo said there are sections of the borough that are overrun with deer and many have been killed on the roads.
Council will also consider a deer feeding ordinance, Petillo said, since apparently a number of residents feed deer.
Resident Edgar Mullins contended people have the right to feed deer on their own property, but resident Louise Bagli said she has a neighbor who feeds deer, and the corn she puts out attracts crows and grackles who spread out over the neighborhood. She noted most of the deer’s natural predators don’t live in Hopatcong, leaving humans as the only predator, but she believes hunting is dangerous in a congested place.
August Goodmanson of Hackettstown, the Northern Regional Representative to the Fish and Game Council for the Federation of Sportsmen’s Clubs, pointed out the range of an arrow is only 150-feet. He noted property that is hunted maintains its healthy vegetation whereas posted land “is a mess.”
Goodmanson said shotgun hunting should also be allowed. “Without a shotgun season culling the herd, you can get bears in the rocky areas,” he said.
Petillo said a survey indicated many fewer deer shot with shotguns than with bows.
Goodmanson cautioned the council to “be cautious about fixing a problem that is not there.” He said “every attempt to control hunting on the local level is a failure.
Both Goodmanson and resident Ken Trumpore contended hunting is safe. Goodmanson said “hunting is safer than bike riding.”
Councilman Richard Bunce called the ordinance a step in the right direction, noting that when he mentioned hunting several years ago there was a huge outcry.
Petillo reminded the audience the ordinance does not specify borough properties where hunting can be allowed, it merely gives the council the opportunity to issue permits. The mayor said people hunt in the borough now but the governing body has no way of knowing who they are.
The ordinance allows council to open a season for hunting with long bow, re-curve bow, compound bow or crossbow. It specifies whitetail deer as the only prey. Hunting must be from an elevated position, natural or artificial, and prohibits portable stands that harm trees. Season dates must conform to the state’s season.
Councilwoman Estelle Klein abstained from the vote, saying the ordinance required more discussion.
The public hearing and a vote on adoption will be held at the Aug. 1 council meeting.
In other business, council also introduced two salary ordinances for public hearings on Aug. 1.
One sets the salaries for full-time communications operators. The range for operators employed before Jan. 1, 2009, is $30,000 to $64,300 with senior operators making up to $69,800. For those hired after Jan. 1, 2009, the minimum starting is $25,000 and the maximum is $50,005. A second ordinance sets the hourly rate for crossing guards at from $10 or $17.