River Vale Council Considers Deer Hunt, Non-Lethal Options April 8

Deer overpopulation caused a spike in local motor vehicle accidents in 2018, River Vale officials have said. | NJDEP photo


RIVER VALE, N.J.—Tonight’s River Vale Township Council meeting scheduled to begin 8 p.m. at Town Hall will feature a discussion by council members on local deer management—bringing to a head an issue that has split advocates of lethal and non-lethal solutions.

An agenda for the 8 p.m. meeting was posted online this morning and lists “Deer Management” under Council Discussion for the April 8 council session.

A couple weeks ago, advocates for non-lethal deer control options appealed to council members to consider using such methods instead of resorting to regulated bow hunting, which they characterized as “inhumane” and “unacceptable.”

Council members have listened to state Division of Fish and Wildlife officials present a case for a regulated hunt—most likely a bow hunt—which state officials called the most effective way to reduce deer population.

Representatives of the Animal Protection League of New Jersey have also appeared before the council to propose non-lethal methods, including surgical sterilization, be utilized to reduce deer numbers.

However, the state Fish and Game Council, which approves municipal deer management plans, does not currently approve of surgical sterilization as a non-lethal option. Only trap and transfer and chemical sterilization are currently approved non-lethal methods approved by New Jersey for non-lethal deer management.

When another municipality, Saddle River, proposed last year to use surgical sterilization to reduce deer population, the state rejected their proposal.

Instead Saddle River initiated a regulated bow hunt to reduce deer population. Over about four months from fall 2018 into winter 2019, 135 deer were killed there, according to published reports.

The Animal Protection League of New Jersey paid for this anti-bow-hunting billboard on Route 3 in East Rutherford, in opposition to Saddle River’s deer hunting plan.

While Saddle River’s regulated bow hunting program asked interested homeowners to allow or restrict bow hunters access to their property, both for hunting and retrieving a wounded deer, Mayor Glen Jasionowski previously said should RIver Vale eventually decide on a bowhunting program, no homeowners’ properties would be used. He said only certain golf courses would be used.

Jasionowski noted previously that auto incidents have risen from two to four yearly to almost 50 in the last year, and said he feared a fatality related to a deer-vehicle accident.

Since October when Jasionowski raised the prospect of a deer hunt to control local population, the topic has been raised regularly, stirring strong opinions and council members decided to give lethal and non-lethal advocates a chance to make their cases before making any decision.