Let park system know how you feel about deer hunting

Ring in the new year, hikers, mountain bikers, equestrians and cross country skiers – courtesy of the Monmouth County Park System’s “Deer Management” program.

In Tatum Park, Middletown, unless you happen to have a hunting license and a special use permit, you will be denied access to some of the most scenic sections of Tatum Park, including the Meadow Run and Tatum Ramble trails, Jan. 1 through Feb. 16. The rest of the woodland trails, Holly Grove, Dogwood Hollow and Indian Springs, are restricted to foot traffic only – so if you are trying to enjoy cross country skiing or mountain biking, you will be corralled in a very limited open flat area.

In the Green Heritage Winter 2007-08 issue, the park system quotes a poem by William Sharp, “There is nothing in the world more beautiful than the forest clothed to its very hollows in snow.”

Winter enthusiasts trying to enjoy our Monmouth County parks will be greeted with a landscape blanketed with yellow “Deer Hunting,Area Closed” signs. So if you’re headed out to enjoy nature this winter, you may want to consider for your safety avoiding the county parks and heading for a safer, more enjoyable destination.

On its Internet Web site, the park system posts the DeerManagementAnnual Report.A record of all incidents related to hunting within the 11 park areas open to hunting under the deer management program was maintained and distributed to affected park areas on a weekly basis.

A total of 56 incidents were recorded over the course of the season. Three permits were revoked as a result of incidents; one revocation related to repeated incidents of failure to show an access permit or hunting license, one involved possession of alcohol, and the third involved possessing a loaded, uncased gun in a safety zone and hunting from the ground.

Examples of other incidents include stolen tree stands/equipment, failure to display vehicle identification tag, parking in an undesignated or restricted area, failure to mark the tree stand with the permit number, and failure to remove the tree stand at the end of the season.

It seems tome relatively a very small number of deer are “harvested” (isn’t that a pretty word?). I did not see any report as to the cost of this deer management program and as to howmany hours are taken up by park rangers who are supervising this event. This allmakes one wonder how our parklands are being “managed” and for whose benefit?

Since the park system has implemented this program, more and more parks are open to hunters, and larger areas are closed for extended periods of time to other user groups.

This year the park system has added Huber Woods to its long list of parks allowing hunting. With more and more hunting allowed, it’s just a matter of time before someone is seriously injured or killed.

Enough is enough. If you feel the same, speak up. Contact the park system with your concerns. Urge them to find an alternative, more evolved solution to control the deer population. The park system may be contacted at (732) 842-4000, ext. 4237; by e-mail at wildlife@monmouthcountyparks.com; or by mail at Monmouth County Park System, Attn.: Public Information Office, 805 Newman Springs Road, Lincroft, NJ 07738.

Joy Gamache