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Trying to outsmart the deer

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  • pat scala
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    Message 1 of 1 , Jul 18, 2009
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      July 17, 2009
      Trying to outsmart the deer

      County wants hunting in federal park
      Deer are pretty smart, you know.
      The Morris County Park Commission began allowing hunting in Lewis Morris Park in the 1990s to cull a herd that was destroying too many plants and shrubs. That was successful to a certain extent, but there was a problem. The county-owmed Lewis Morris Park in Morris and Mendham townships is adjacent to the federally owned Morristown National Historical Park, where hunting never has been permitted. So deer just relocated away from where the gunshots were coming. Quite a logical response, don't you think?
      Now the county park commission wants the National Park Service to allow hunting on federal property. That will show the deer who is boss. The commission's appeal includes support from the New Jersey Audobon Society. In a joint letter to the feds, the commission and Audobon Society say Jockey Hollow "has become the universal poster child for deer-damaged landscapes." They urged the National Park Service to "accept its obligation to be a responsible neighbor."
      The superintendent of the federal park told the Daily Record that federal funds for a deer-management study are expected to be included in the next federal budget, which begins Oct. 1. A talk of a "study" is not very encouraging to those who want a hunt now. But it is indicative of the plodding way the government does business.
      Hunts to cull deer herds are quite common these days. Twenty years ago, there was no hunting in any county park. Now hunting takes place in parks throughout the county. Additionally, many towns have organized their own hunts. So it's probably inevitable that a hunt will come to Jockey Hollow, but probably not this year.
      Critics contend that this proliferation of hunts is counterproductive, because surviving deer overcompensate for the decline in their numbers and increase breeding. We began by saying deer are smart, but to assume deer can adjust their breeding habits in response to the size of their herd might be giving them too much credit. Oh well, maybe the federal study will explore that.
      Our View: A hunt seems inevitable, but probably not this year.

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