The overpopulation of white-tailed deer is a big problem in the Sourlands, where the deer population can reach more than 130 per square mile — more than 10 times the sustainable level. The effects on humans include epidemic levels of Lyme disease (spread by deer ticks), high rates of automobile accidents, and the destruction of gardens and landscaping, as well as the destruction of forests that filter our waters and slow rates of stormwater runoff. Because deer browse and kill nearly all the saplings and seedlings they encounter, the herd poses an existential threat to the forest itself. As mature trees die, there are few viable young trees to take their place. Invasive plants proliferate in these openings, creating permanent holes in the forest.
The goal of The Hunter Connection is to link hunters looking for hunting opportunities with private landowners who would like to allow hunting on their properties. The program was created to facilitate increased deer harvesting in order to reduce the negative effects of overabundant deer, including impacts to human health, economic impacts and ecological degradation.
For more information about the Sourland Conservancy’s Comprehensive Deer Management Plan, visit the Projects/Deer Management page of their website, www.sourland.org.
And to find out more about State programs and regulations, the NJ Division of Fish & Wildlife regulates all game hunting in the state; for more information visit the Division’s web site at http://www.njfishandwildlife.com. Game Code and hunting questions can also be answered by calling (609) 292-2965.
The current season’s regulations can be found in the annual Hunting and Trapping Digest linked to at http://www.state.nj.us/dep/fgw/njregs.htm. (Photo from Rutgers NJAES)