Not a word of objection was uttered Monday night as the governing body of the fed-up-with-deer borough of Shrewsbury gave the nod to the use of bows and arrows to thin burgeoning herds.
Then again, the move was a formality, as the council simply accepted the findings of a report that recommended that frustrated property owners do what they’ve been allowed to do for the past five years: kill the animals with arrows, provided they do so within New Jersey Division of Fish, Game & Wildlife regulations.
Now, the only question is how many residents take the suggestion.
“A few people in town are so fed up, they’re going to do it,” said Mayor Donald Burden, who this year tore out his own vegetable garden in surrender to the white-tailed creatures.
After three years of wrangling, two public meetings and a study showing 73 percent of respondents believe the town’s deer population needs to be reduced, the report by a handful of borough committees and departments concluded that the status quo was the way to go. No changes to borough ordinances were made.
The report also put to rest, for now, any debate about a “cull hunt,” or systematic pursuit of deer by hunters, said police Lieutenant Lou Ferraro, who shepherded the report.
“We have not ruled out an organized hunt,” Ferraro told redbankgreen. “Instead, what we’re doing is giving the people who are most impacted the choice” of whether or not to kill deer on their properties, provided they follow state hunting laws.
Property owners won’t need permits, and are asked to volunteer information to the police department about how many deer are taken, Burden said. Hunters won’t be allowed within 50 yards of a habitable structure, and must shoot from an elevated position. Discharging of firearms is prohibited.
The report grew out of a rising number of complaints about garden destruction, motor vehicle accidents and the incidence of Lyme disease, its authors said. Since 2006, borough police have responded to an average 18 deer-related vehicle accidents a year, But calls for police to remove dead deer from roadways suggests that actual number of accidents is much higher, the report says.
“The deer are jumping out on major roads,” Burden said.
Still, despite “overwhelming support” for pushback against the deer, “I don’t think many people” will take up bows and arrows, or invite hunters onto their properties, he said. That’s because of what he perceives to be an aversion to killing animals the so-called Bambi factor and the fact that few inland properties are large enough to comply with the distance rule.
The majority of the hunting activity is expected to occur on large properties on or near the Shrewsbury River, he said.
Here’s the report: deer-report-june-2011