Public Info

Annual Watchung Reservation Deer Management Program to Start Monday, February 28

The Union County Department of Parks and Community Renewal has released details of its annual Watchung Reservation Deer Management Program, which will begin on Monday morning, February 28.

From 1996-1999, the County of Union’s state-approved deer management program worked to reduce the number of deer in the Watchung Reservation from an estimated 180 deer per square mile to the goal density of 20 deer per square mile. This goal was achieved one year earlier than anticipated. The program currently underway, begun in 2000, changed the emphasis from reduction to maintenance of that density level.

This year’s Watchung Reservation Deer Management Program will operate between 5:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m. on Monday, Feb. 28, through Wednesday, March 2. In the event of inclement weather on any of those days, the program may occur on Thursday and Friday, March 3 and 4, but under no circumstances will the program extend past Friday, March 4.

The Deer Management Program has been expanded this year to include sites within Passaic River Park in Summit. Those sites have been hunted since 2005 by a private company under a contract issued by the City of Summit. This year, those same sites will be hunted by volunteers from the Watchung Reservation Program, during the same dates and times, at no cost to the City of Summit.

Sixteen marksmen, chosen by the County from among experienced, licensed hunters, most of whom have previously participated in Union County’s program, have been selected to serve on a voluntary basis. The deer that are killed will be processed at a USDA-approved butcher. Venison will be distributed to the needy and homeless through the Community FoodBank of New Jersey.

Teams of agents will be supervised by the Union County Police and representatives from the New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife. Anyone found hunting on any County park property outside the terms of this program will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.  Citizens observing any such illegal activity are urged to immediately contact the Union County Police at 908-654-9800.

The public should note that the Watchung Reservation will not be closed during the deer management program; however, portions of some roadways inside the park may be closed for short periods if necessary. Park patrons are urged to stay on the marked hiking, walking and bridle trails. Patrons also are urged to keep pets restrained on a leash.

The Union County Department of Parks and Community Renewal will be mailing information about its annual deer-management program to households surrounding the Watchung Reservation. Copies also will be available at Trailside Nature & Science Center, 452 New Providence Road, and Watchung Stable, 1160 Summit Lane, both in Mountainside.

For further information, contact the Union County Department of Parks and Community Renewal at (908) 789-3682.

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