Princeton Township to allow more sport hunting of deer

Season expanded by 20 to 22 days.

By: David Campbell
   The Princeton Township Committee unanimously approved an ordinance Monday night that expands sports hunting by three weeks to complement the township’s deer-management program.
   The ordinance permits hunters to kill deer during two seasons formerly prohibited by township code — the muzzleloader season, which usually occurs in November, December and January; and the six-day firearm buck season, which occurs in December and permits additional shotgun hunting in the township.
   The township code already permits bow hunting throughout the deer-hunting season and special-permit shotgun hunting of deer for sport.
   All sport hunting in the township occurs by permission on private property and is prohibited on public lands.
   Township Attorney Edwin Schmierer said the two new seasons expand sport hunting in the township by 20 to 22 days, and has called the ordinance "a good adjunct to our deer-management program."
   He said the ordinance did not open public lands to hunting.
   An ordinance similar to the one approved Monday night appeared on the agenda of the Township Committee meeting of Nov. 12, at which the deer-management plan for this winter was approved, but was withdrawn prior to introduction.
   The Fish and Game Council, a regulatory and permit-issuing branch of the Division of Fish and Wildlife, asked the township to include the additional hunting seasons to give sport hunters an opportunity to help cull the township herd and considered making its approval of the deer-management plan, which it granted Nov. 13, conditional on the township approving the sport-hunting ordinance.
   Some Fish and Game Council members at that time indicated the council could react negatively next year if the additional seasons were not approved.
   Robert Kubiak, a Robbinsville hunter and plaintiff in a lawsuit challenging the township’s deer-management program, said many hunters opposed the ordinance because it was part of a deal between the township and Fish and Wildlife to bring back Hamden, Conn.-based wildlife-management firm White Buffalo next year.
   Mr. Kubiak said hunting clubs are quitting the township because the herd on outlying private lands they hunt has been decimated.
   Richard Moore, president-elect of the Central New Jersey State Federation of Sportsmen’s Clubs, said the township was "on the right track" with the ordinance, calling sports hunters "an effective wildlife control."
   Both Mr. Kubiak and Mr. Moore urged the Township Committee to open up public lands to bow hunting.
   According to Tom Poole of the township’s wildlife committee, sport hunters kill around 150 deer annually through bow and shotgun hunting with the current firearms restrictions in place.
   Susan Martka, lead biologist with the Division of Fish and Wildlife, has said the expansion of conventional hunting in Princeton Township may help lessen the municipality’s dependence on White Buffalo to trim the herd.
   Mr. Poole said the division estimates the ordinance will bring an annual increase of 10 to 15 deer killed by conventional hunting.
   The second year of the township’s deer cull using White Buffalo ended Feb. 22 with 303 deer killed.
   A three-judge appellate panel last month upheld the constitutionality of the state’s deer-management program and the law that enables it to be carried out. But a lawsuit challenging Princeton Township’s cull is pending in the Appellate Division of state Superior Court.