CRANFORD - The Union County Parks and Recreation will conduct a controlled deer hunt at select parks including Nomahegan Park this winter in accordance with its white-tailed deer management program, which aims to improve forest health in county parks through the management of the deer population.

Winter bow season will begin Jan. 1 and last through Feb. 16, Monday through Friday. Parks and trails remain open on dates when bow hunting is scheduled and park visitors are urged to stay on paths and to keep their pets on leashes. 

Forest ecologists recommend that white-tailed deer populations in Northeast hardwood forests should not exceed an overwintering density of 20 deer per square mile in order for deer browse to not impair forest health. In areas where the forest health is already compromised, deer density needs to be as low as 5 per square mile.

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The results of spotlight counts conducted in April, 2018 suggest 2018-2019 overwintering densities of 182 per square mile in and around Lenape and Nomahegan Parks. The County of Union will utilize the assistance of community-minded licensed hunters with a proficiency in marksmanship to reduce the populations of white-tailed deer in the subject parks.

The goals of this program are to prevent overbrowsing of native vegetation in the park areas and allow forest regeneration, minimize browsing of residential landscaping surrounding the park properties, and minimize the incidence of deer-related motor vehicle accidents. Additional benefits that could result from this program are a reduction in the incidence of Lyme disease and an increased opportunity for homeowners to use and enjoy their yards for recreating and gardening.

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