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July 17, 2000

For more information contact:
Larry Herrighty at 609-292-6685

Recently approved legislation will allow airports, municipalities and county agricultural boards that are experiencing significant and documented damage or safety concerns from the over-population of deer, to apply to the Department of Environmental Protection's Division of Fish and Wildlife for designation as special deer management areas. The special deer management area designation would allow applicants to submit to the Division for its approval, community-based deer management plans that utilize control methods other than sport hunting to reduce deer numbers in authorized areas.

"The most proven effective method for controlling deer populations is traditional hunting. However, traditional hunting is not an option in some suburban and urban areas or at facilities like airports. This bill provides the option of using control methods other than traditional hunting to help curb deer damage and the safety hazards posed by over-population in situations where hunting is not an option," said Division Director Bob McDowell.

This legislation allows airports, county agricultural boards and municipalities to tailor a management strategy to fit their individual needs. Alternatives under the new legislation include: controlled hunting, shooting by an authorized agent, trap and euthanasia, trap and transfer to research farms and fertility control. However, it is important to note that deer population management using alternative control methods can not occur until the Division has approved an application for special management area designation and also approves a community-based deer management plan that specifies how the population will be controlled. If the management plan utilizes control methods that are not allowed by the New Jersey Game Code, the Fish and Game Council may approve an exception to the Game Code if it is determined that doing so will not harm public safety or that such an exemption is necessary to ensure the public's safety. All plans must include a clear delineation of special area boundaries, description of alternative control methods employed, list of participating organizations/individuals implementing the plan and their qualifications, an efficient and accurate process for notifying the public, list of public safety precautions, written consents of affected landowners to access their property if necessary, and a resolution adopted by the governing body of the municipality in which the area is located. In order for an organization and/or individual to become an authorized agent for carrying out alternative control methods, they must meet knowledge and experience requirements. Plans must also include provisions for offering harvested deer to the statewide Venison Donation Program whenever possible.

The legislation also authorizes the appropriation of $25,000 in General Funds to the Department of Agriculture for providing grants to county boards of agriculture for expenses related to the implementation of community-based deer management plans.