By DON STINE
Too many deer is an ongoing problem in Ocean Township and other surrounding communities but township officials have not given up on their efforts to find a way to deal with it.
Mayor Christopher Siciliano said that a special subcommittee has been looking into the problem and ways to solve it.
“The entire council is anxious to have a deer management policy in place as soon as we can,” he said.
He said efforts are being made to find a “nonlethal way” to deal with the problem, “if feasible.”
“We have been working oi it and it is on our radar. We have set up meetings with the appropriate agencies and there are steps that we have to follow. We want to know we are going in the right direction,” he said.
Siciliano said that there are about 32 to 35 deer hit by vehicles every year in Ocean Township.
“We cross our fingers that there have been no serious injuries recently but there have been people hurt in the past,” he said.
Monmouth County leads the state with deer carcass removal in 2017, with 999 dead deer found lying by the side of the road. October and November are the worst months. In total, state Department of Transportation crews removed 6,525 deer carcasses statewide in 2016, an increase of 400 more than they removed in 2015.
Deputy Mayor Robert Acerra said the three-member special committee looking into the deer problem is “putting all options on the table” as it does its research. Acerra said there is no set timeframe to come up with a plan.
“We are just in our infancy of doing our factfinding and discovery but we are going to do our due diligence. We want to hear suggestions and do it right by being open and transparent,” he said.
He said the committee recently met with officials from the state Division of Fish and Wildlife and will continue to seek input from other sources.
“We are looking at lethal, not lethal- whatever is out there, we are looking at. It needs to make sense from a humane and financial perspective but safety is always our main concern,” he said.
A deer-hunting program was initiated in 2004 by the Monmouth County Parks System after it experienced a booming population of white-tailed deer that threatened forestation in the county.
The Parks System recognizes hunting as a means to control deer population but efforts are also being made to explore non-lethal options for population control, including deer contraception.
The agency is working with researchers at Rutgers University to learn more about deer contraception in the form of shots which limit the deer’s ability to produce certain hormones.