Deer Hunt Begins Next Tuesday In South Mountain And Hilltop Reservations

BY  |  Tuesday, Jan 15, 2013 2:23pm  |  COMMENTS (31)

“Deer harvest” report.

Essex County Executive Joseph N. DiVincenzo, Jr. today announced plans for a “scaled back” program to get rid of  deer from the South Mountain and Hilltop Reservations. Here’s his statement:

Essex County Executive Joseph N. DiVincenzo, Jr. announced that the Essex County Deer Management Program will continue for a sixth consecutive year, but the operation will be scaled back from previous campaigns with fewer days and with deer being removed from only two reservations.

The program will be conducted in South Mountain Reservation and Hilltop Reservation on Tuesdays and Thursdays from Tuesday, January 22nd to Thursday, February 7th. To maximize safety, the two reservations will be closed to the public on the days the Deer Management Program is being conducted. Reducing the number of deer is part of an ongoing initiative by the administration to preserve and restore the forest ecology in Essex County’s open spaces.

“During the first five years of our Deer Management Program, we have been very successful in reducing the deer population in our reservations to a manageable level. This has enabled us to transition our program from aggressively removing deer and scale back our program to where our goal is to maintain the population,” DiVincenzo said. “While we have made tremendous progress, it is important to continue this maintenance mode to preserve the forest habitat and maintain our reservations as viable resources for recreation and open space,” the Executive pointed out.

“Over the last five years, we have removed over 800 deer from our reservations, started a program to accelerate the re-growth of our forests and introduced a pilot program to reduce traffic accidents involving deer. The over abundance of deer affects all of our communities, and our program provides a comprehensive approach to address the problem,” he said.

The program will be conducted in South Mountain Reservation on Tuesdays, January 22nd and January 29th and Thursday, January 24th in the afternoon only. It will be held in Hilltop Reservation and the old Essex County Hospital Center site in the mornings and afternoons on Thursdays, January 31st and February 7th and Tuesday, February 5th. The program will not be held in Eagle Rock Reservation. DiVincenzo noted that when the program started in 2008, it was held in the morning and afternoon on 12 days for a total of 24 sessions while this year’s program includes six days with just nine sessions. “We have updated our program to adapt to the changing conditions in each reservation,” DiVincenzo noted.

From 2008 to 2012, a total of 1,363 deer (818 deer and 545 unborn deer) were removed from the three reservations utilizing the volunteer services of experienced and qualified marksmen. There were 360 deer (213 deer and 147 unborn deer) removed in 2008, 138 deer (83 deer and 55 unborn deer) removed in 2009, 252 deer (160 deer and 92 unborn deer) removed in 2010, 339 deer (187 deer and 152 unborn deer) removed in 2011 and 274 deer (175 deer and 99 unborn deer) removed in 2012. South Mountain Reservation is located in Maplewood, Millburn and West Orange, and Hilltop Reservation is in Cedar Grove, North Caldwell and Verona.

To maximize safety, South Mountain Reservation, Hilltop Reservation, the Old Hospital Center Site and all parking areas and roads inside the two reservations will be closed to the public on the days the program is held in that specific reservation. Part of Fairview Avenue in Cedar Grove and Verona will be closed to traffic, but all other county roadways will remain open. Essex County Turtle Back Zoo, Essex County Codey Arena, the Essex County Park-N-Ride facility and McLoone’s Boathouse Restaurant in West Orange will remain open. The Essex County Sheriff’s Office will coordinate safety patrols with local police departments.

“Zero. That’s the number of incidents we have had during the first five years of this program and that’s how many I expect we will have this year. We work with our municipal partners to develop and executive a good plan,” Essex County Sheriff Armando Fontoura said. “The numbers shows this is definitely working,” he added.

Qualified, volunteer marksmen have been selected to participate in the program. The volunteers are licensed by the State of New Jersey and have demonstrated their marksmanship ability and completed an orientation program with the Essex County Department of Parks, Recreation and Cultural Affairs and the Essex County Sheriff’s Office. When in the reservations, the agents will station themselves in trees at least 20 feet above the ground and only take shots at a downward angle.

All deer removed from the reservations will be transported to a check station where County officials will inspect the animals and collect information about its age, reproductive status, gender and weight, as well as the number of shots fired. They will then be transported by the County to a NJ Department of Health approved butcher for processing. Venison will be donated to the Community FoodBank of New Jersey in Hillside, which will distribute the meat to the needy and homeless. In 2012, 4,572 pounds of venison were donated to the Community FoodBank, which provided about 18,000 meals for needy families. Volunteer marksmen who complete at least five (5) half-day shifts of volunteer service will receive 40 pounds of venison.

Essex County has used a variety of means to notify the public about the Deer Management Program and the closure of the reservations to the public while the program is taking place. In addition to today’s announcement, advertisements were placed in The Star-Ledger and several local weekly newspapers. Over 75,000 postcards were mailed to residents in Cedar Grove, Maplewood, Millburn, North Caldwell, Short Hills, Verona and West Orange; information was posted on the Essex County website ( and distributed to an e-mail database maintained by the County Executive’s Office; and electronic message boards have been placed along roadways around the reservations to notify motorists. In addition, Municipal Liaisons appointed by the County Executive will present information to the municipal governments at upcoming public meetings.

In addition to culling the deer herd, an aggressive replanting program to accelerate the regrowth of the forests is underway in South Mountain Reservation and Eagle Rock Reservation. Forty-seven enclosures (42 in South Mountain and 5 in Eagle Rock) have been installed where native vegetative species have been planted so their seeds can be reintroduced into the area as the plants mature. The eight-foot high fences are designed to prevent deer and other large animals from foraging on the newly planted areas, but allow smaller animals, such as rodents and birds, to enter and exit. The fences will remain in place for about 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.

Replanting native plant species is necessary to restore the forest understory that was being destroyed by the overbrowsing of deer. The loss of this vegetation has prevented new trees from growing, created erosion problems, allowed invasive plant species to flourish and caused the number of native animal species that rely on the plants for food or protection to decline.

The third aspect of the Essex County Deer Management Program is enhancing safety on County roads by reducing the number of motor vehicle accidents involving deer. Through a pilot program with the NJ Department of Transportation, Essex County received grant money 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. The reflectors are installed along Cherry Lane, Brookside Drive, JFK Parkway and Parsonage Hill Road in Millburn, Livingston and West Orange. In 2012, 201 deer were removed from County roads. In 2011, 233 deer were removed from County roads. There were 233 deer removed from County roads in 2011, 229 deer in 2010, 284 deer in 2009, 363 deer in 2008 and 303 in 2007.


  1. POSTED BY deiscane  |  January 15, 2013 @ 2:56 pm

    Does anyone know what hours the reservation will be closed?

  2. POSTED BY herbeverschmel  |  January 15, 2013 @ 2:59 pm

    Tuesday afternoon there will be the same old bogus story going around about a shot deer walking across someones lawn bleeding and their child witnessed it.

  3. POSTED BY johnleesandiego  |  January 15, 2013 @ 3:29 pm

    Are we all to wear safety orange while dining at the Highlawn?

  4. POSTED BY mathilda  |  January 15, 2013 @ 3:45 pm

    Deer harvest report? It is a euphemism for mass murder, committed by our own neighbors, on beings that happen to be a different from us. Can the deer help being different? Is it their fault for not having been born a member of our species? Of courses not.

    Our politicians laud the institutionalized murder of 818 deer as a successful policy, and gloss over the other 545 unborn deer that were “removed.” Removed, that is, from life’s stage, snuffed out before they even had a chance to leave the womb.

    For shame, for shame.

  5. POSTED BY raeven  |  January 15, 2013 @ 4:05 pm

    Hey, mathilda is back

  6. POSTED BY herbeverschmel  |  January 15, 2013 @ 4:12 pm

    Mathilda, people have been saying the same thing for years about unborn babies and they’re called zealots and kooks.

  7. POSTED BY jcunningham  |  January 15, 2013 @ 4:14 pm

    “Tuesday afternoon there will be the same old bogus story going around…”

    —and that will be on, right herb?

  8. POSTED BY cathar  |  January 15, 2013 @ 6:04 pm

    Okay, if no one else is going to say it…the timing of this, uh, “sporting event” which supplies meat to the needy (although I doubt very, very much anyone will eat all the “harvested” venison) is a bit gruesome coming as it does after several well-reported incidents regarding the discharge of firearms.

    Yes, too, there is random, senseless killing and then there is (apparently by Di Vincenzo’s and Fontoura’s standards), “good,” controlled killing. Still, it might have been better to wait a year. So I find myself, surprisingly, in complete agreement with Mathilda. Care to join me, Herb?

  9. POSTED BY NNN9495  |  January 15, 2013 @ 6:55 pm

    I wish that birth control darts were going to be fired into these animals instead of bullets. I still have frequent visits by up to seven deer at a time behind my backyard fence in Glen Ridge. Something needs to be done besides the annual hunt. They need to stop reproducing at breakneck speed.

  10. POSTED BY townie  |  January 15, 2013 @ 7:47 pm

    I’ve been to Hilltop maybe a dozen times this year, most recently this past weekend, and I have never seen a deer.

    I’d be curious to hear the count.

  11. POSTED BY may17  |  January 15, 2013 @ 10:15 pm

    “They need to stop reproducing at breakneck speed.” I’m sure they’re thinking the same thing about us 😉

  12. POSTED BY Frank Rubacky  |  January 15, 2013 @ 10:44 pm

    What may17 said.

  13. POSTED BY Nellie  |  January 16, 2013 @ 5:16 am

    So sad this is happening again.

  14. POSTED BY Spiro T. Quayle  |  January 16, 2013 @ 5:36 am

    I agree with Nellie.

  15. POSTED BY herbeverschmel  |  January 16, 2013 @ 7:33 am

    I walked in my yard last week at night to take the garbage cans out and there had to be a dozen laying on the ground that jumped up and took off scaring the beejeezes out of the new and improved herb nearly sending him to the dreaded Mountainside. I should have known better because they are there every night for the most part. They have been tearing my yard and whats left of my shrubs up for years. There was a time I could barely see the house next door , now i can see right through 6 yards to the street. My beautiful yard once graced with luscious Boston Ivy is now relegated to woody brown depressing vines. Ok, that to me is WPP, however the feces is ridiculous, try playing with your kids in your yard and maneuvering through the piles like OJ running through the airport. Like all of us, I once enjoyed a Bambi sighting but the baggage and damage they bring has turned me. Deer hunt, birth control i don’t care to be honest, i just want them out of my area.

  16. POSTED BY NNN9495  |  January 16, 2013 @ 8:35 am

    I want them out of my area, too. I know the damage that Lyme disease can do; my brother is never going to fully recover from this. My older dog contracted Lyme two years ago despite having topical flea & tick “protection.” Deer = host for deer ticks = Lyme

  17. POSTED BY mathilda  |  January 16, 2013 @ 8:49 am

    The ticks have every bit as much right to exist as do the deer, and as do we. Humans are not special. Evolution is not progress. Some creatures have more complex neural networks than others. That does not make them better or more righteous. Each creature holds its own special place in the intricate web of nature. We must respect that. If not, we tread the slippery slope to moral decrepitude.

    You may snicker at the notion of contraceptive darts, but such technology is available to us. The rub is that to be effective a dart must strike dead on to the male deer’s testicles–one dart for each spherical gland. Although I am against inflicting such pain on other beings, morally we would be on more solid ground if the hunters would agree, as a quid pro quo, to shoot their own testicles.

  18. POSTED BY herbeverschmel  |  January 16, 2013 @ 9:23 am

    “Humans are not special”.

    I disagree, animals don’t even wear clothes. They don’t even know how to sew.

  19. POSTED BY deadeye  |  January 16, 2013 @ 9:45 am

    Mathilda, you’ve come up with a great idea for a new violent video game. The player needs to shoot each male each deer twice in the testicles to score. Once that simple feat is achieved, the player collects a point for each tick that had been on the deer. He can then transfer the ticks to any opponents, thereby infecting them with Lyme disease and making them less effective players.

  20. POSTED BY Mrs Martta  |  January 16, 2013 @ 10:08 am

    Not a fan of this whole thing but I understand the reasoning behind it. And, although I am all for feeding the hungry, I’m not so sure it’s a great idea to be eating the meat of deer who have grazed on pesticide-treated grasses and plants.

  21. POSTED BY silverleaf  |  January 16, 2013 @ 10:46 am

    mathilda – “The ticks have every bit as much right to exist as do the deer.”

    Are you actually advocating a moral position asserting the right of a tick to exist over its potential negative health effects on humans? Statistics reported by the CDC indicate that in 2011, 96% of all cases of Lyme disease occured in the Northeast.

    While animal rights are certainly an important issue, your position, however well intended, is so absurd as to be written by Ionesco. Let’s keep the issue in perspective and save the argument for more worthy species like the giant panda, bald eagle, and baleen whale.

  22. POSTED BY mathilda  |  January 16, 2013 @ 12:29 pm

    What is the philosophical argument for holding whales, eagles and pandas more worthy than ticks, worms and yeast? One group is cuter than the other? How rigorous.

    Eugene Ionesco happens to have been a good friend of mine. We met at Abbey Road Studios when the Beatles were recording Nowhere Man, back in my wild Europe days.

  23. POSTED BY silverleaf  |  January 16, 2013 @ 1:11 pm

    You incorrectly presumed that I based my statement within a “philosophical’ context. My assertion was strictly practical in nature; that is, the continued existence of ticks vs the health risk to humans. BTW, I never mentioned which species is cuter, those were your words. It must have been on your mind.

    How apropos that Ionesco was a good friend of yours. Did you know that the rhinoceros is also on the endangered species list?

  24. POSTED BY State Street Pete  |  January 16, 2013 @ 1:22 pm

    This reminds me of one of my favorite scenes from Pulp Fiction…

    Vincent: Want some bacon?
    Jules: No man, I don’t eat pork.
    Vincent: Are you Jewish?
    Jules: Nah, I ain’t Jewish, I just don’t dig on swine, that’s all.
    Vincent: Why not?
    Jules: Pigs are filthy animals. I don’t eat filthy animals.
    Vincent: Bacon tastes gooood. Pork chops taste gooood.
    Jules: Hey, sewer rat may taste like pumpkin pie, but I’d never know ’cause I wouldn’t eat the filthy ____. Pigs sleep and root in s___. That’s a filthy animal. I ain’t eat nothin’ that ain’t got sense enough to disregard its own feces.
    Vincent: How about a dog? Dogs eats its own feces.
    Jules: I don’t eat dog either.
    Vincent: Yeah, but do you consider a dog to be a filthy animal?
    Jules: I wouldn’t go so far as to call a dog filthy but they’re definitely dirty. But, a dog’s got personality. Personality goes a long way.
    Vincent: Ah, so by that rationale, if a pig had a better personality, he would cease to be a filthy animal. Is that true?
    Jules: Well we’d have to be talkin’ about one charming ____ pig. I mean he’d have to be ten times more charmin’ than that Arnold on Green Acres, you know what I’m sayin’?

  25. POSTED BY NNN9495  |  January 16, 2013 @ 1:22 pm

    So are Monarch butterflies. I value their existence in the garden I raise for them. Ticks spread disease. End of story. Can’t wait for your reply, Mathilda.

  26. POSTED BY mathilda  |  January 16, 2013 @ 2:14 pm

    It thrills me no end that my reply is awaited.

    Did you know that most of the endangered species are microbes, many of them far more “important” (even in the narrow anthropomorphic sense, as in “important to Number One”) than the rhino? Most ignoramuses do not. Although you may never had noticed Holothuridea, say, in a zoo, it plays a far more vital role in the survival of Homo sapiens than Rhinoceros sondaicus ever could. Ixodes scapularis, one might say, ensure fitness in mammalian populations, but its “importance” in the jigsaw of natural life is essentially unknown, as is the case with most species.

    Lest my point be lost, allow me to rephrase it in a vernacular that you will understand: your reasoning is as flabby as Joan Rivers’ buttocks.

  27. POSTED BY cathar  |  January 16, 2013 @ 2:26 pm

    You know, Mathilda dearest, one post from you on an issue is funny. Two remains bearable. But three? Nah, too much.

    And FOUR? Is your creator that bored this afternoon?

    You should have stopped with the first two, because by then you had poor, very much mistaken silverleaf apparently taking you seriously.

    I also didn’t find the concept of Eugene Ionesco in a recording studio terribly believable even on your own terms. His fellow Romanians Ilie Nastase or Ion Tiriac, yes, but not the playwright.

  28. POSTED BY silverleaf  |  January 16, 2013 @ 4:15 pm

    cathar – Tell me, why wouldn’t poor, very much mistaken silverleaf take mathilda seriously?

    Is it because like you, she’d fabricate such a tale about her very own musical experience, as one would about having known say, Jim Morrison, for example?

  29. POSTED BY cathar  |  January 16, 2013 @ 4:26 pm

    No, leafy, I knew the Lizard King for a while.

    You shouldn’t feel wildly abashed that you were taken in by Mathilda. “She” offers up the sort of self-righteously extreme environmentalism that’s always just this side of bald parody, but is probably quite common among real folk. Someplace already quite extreme enough like Montclair, anyway.

  30. POSTED BY luciano  |  January 23, 2013 @ 7:38 pm

    So I spoke with Joyce Goldman the Director of constituent service from the office Essex County executive and she became increasingly rude and confrontational as I express my dismay with the program she said that people can’t let their kids play in backyards because there could be 6-8 deer that left a mess in back yard. That is the stupidest thing I ever heard in defense of this pathetic excuse they call the harvest. I encourage everyone to call and see if its their official stance

  31. POSTED BY Frank Rubacky  |  January 23, 2013 @ 10:03 pm

    The word of the day: insignificant

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