The White-Tailed Deer Problem in New Jersey
Political Positions Related to the Deer Problem
“An oversized deer population is a threat to farmers, gardeners, roads, and community health – and without a natural predator, New Jersey’s deer population has been allowed to grow unchecked. Whether it’s protecting farmers’ crops, preventing collisions on the road, or reducing the food supply of disease-carrying ticks, keeping the deer population under control needs to be one of the agricultural community’s top priorities. To do so, it’s vital that we focus on the methods that work and listen to the communities who experience the problems caused by this population in their daily lives.” – Assemblyman Eric Houghtaling, Chairman of the Assembly Agriculture Committee, NJ
“As a farmer myself, I know that farmers face a never-ending battle with wildlife that can strip plantings and profitability from their land. Deer are attracted to the open space and the healthy plants growing on New Jersey farms. Deer in New Jersey are not threatened by any natural predators and the population has grown to dangerous levels. Responsible hunting is crucial to maintaining a sustainable ecological balance; it is important for efficient wildlife management for the legislature to open more opportunities for residents to partake in hunting.” – Assemblyman Parker Space, Sparta, NJ
“Trying to figure out what to do about deer is a difficult and complex problem for many local governments up and down the state. Getting the best science and most up-to-date deer-management options is essential to making good decisions. The New Jersey Farm Bureau is a great source that many of us in local government rely on to help us make the right deer decisions.” – Councilman Matthew Hale, Highland Park, NJ
“The Farm Bureau’s recent drone survey confirms what I have been hearing for years from my constituents: that the deer population in Burlington County is out of control. As a parent and suburban homeowner, I worry about deer bringing ticks carrying Lyme disease into our backyards and causing accidents on our roadways. Communities must come together to help solve this problem that affects us all.” – Assemblyman Ryan Peters, 8th Legislative District, NJ
“As a farmer and former mayor, I am well aware of the damage deer cause on our roadways, to our crops and our health. Hopewell has been trying to manage the herd for over a decade now to no avail, as cases of Lyme disease and deer/vehicle collisions continue to rise. I have been working as a butcher with Hunters Helping the Hungry (HHH) to bring venison to the Mercer Street Friends Food Bank. This year alone, I processed 112 deer that were donated, which amounted to over 2,000 pounds of venison. Through Farm Bureau efforts, the Legislature designated $100,000 towards HHH donations in order to give hunters incentive to harvest more deer. I hope to see many more deer donated next season.” – John Hart, former Mayor of Hopewell Township, Mercer County, NJ
“The cull (decreasing the deer population using lethal methods) might be the scientific thing to do, but so many people have such strong feelings against it that it is not worth upsetting them – even if their feelings are not rational.” – Mayor Christopher Taylor, Ann Arbor, MI
Mayor Taylor was the sole vote against a lethal management solution adopted by Ann Arbor in 2015. This solution has been supported by advocates that include the former director of a wildlife preserve and a University of Michigan professor of ecology and evolutionary biology.
“Deer are prey, but they don’t actively have a predator within the city. So if we don’t actively manage the deer, they will continue to breed as if they did have predators and they will overwhelm every natural feature that we have. According to the studies done by Cornell University, this is the only method that works. Everything else is an illusion.” – Jack Eaton, Council Member, Ann Arbor, MI
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Human Health Effects
The New Jersey Farm Bureau, and the agricultural interests we represent, understand that people will have different ideas about the approach to this problem. But ultimately, we must identify immediate and viable solutions to mitigate the negative impact to agriculture, the environment, and human health caused by deer overpopulation.