Township deer-management plan receives state approval

From 100 to 130 deer expected to be culled this winter

By: David Campbell
   The state Fish and Game Council on Tuesday approved a sixth round of deer management in Princeton Township using hired sharpshooters and captive bolting this winter in conjunction with an ongoing experimental birth-control vaccination program.
   The council voted to approve the township’s program this year with member Richard Culp casting the lone dissenting vote, state Department of Environmental Protection spokeswoman Karen Hershey said. Mr. Culp declined to comment Wednesday on the reason for his vote.
   Last month, the Township Committee approved a contract for up to $60,000 with wildlife-management firm White Buffalo for another winter of deer culling and to continue the pilot deer-vaccination program now under way in the southeastern corner of the township.
   White Buffalo will cull between 100 and 130 animals this winter. Work is expected to begin sometime in February, company President Anthony DeNicola said.
   Culling will occur outside the fertility study zone with sharpshooting from elevated stands and at netted bait sites where deer are captured and then killed using a bolt gun.
   In September, the Township Committee approved another year of sport hunting by United Bowhunters of New Jersey, a concession to the Fish and Game Council, which has said it wants to see the township’s deer-management efforts include opportunities for hunters.
   UBNJ members are permitted to conduct limited bowhunting at four township parks and reserves — Fieldwood, Autumn Hill Reserve, Woodfield Reservation, and the Stony Brook tract at Puritan Court — in daylight hours through February.
   This township deer-management program, which began in 2001, seeks to reduce the township’s total deer population to about 350, or about 20 animals per square mile.
   Since the program began, about 1,300 deer have been culled in the township. Since the fertility program began in 2003, more than 100 female deer have been vaccinated.
   Township Attorney Edwin Schmierer said this week that the township has been phasing back its deer-culling efforts and did not anticipate problems getting the Fish and Game Council’s approval this year. In the past, animal-rights activists have opposed the lethal program in the courts.
   At the Township Committee’s reorganization meeting held last week, Mayor Phyllis Marchand said in her annual mayoral address that deer management in the township has reduced deer-vehicle collisions by 71 percent since its inception.