WEST ORANGE, NJ -  Essex County has announced plans for its annual Deer Management Program, to be conducted in South Mountain Reservation on January 21, 23, 28 and 30, and in Hilltop Reservation and Old Hospital Center Site on February 4, 6, 11, and 13.

The reservations will be closed on those dates for the public's safety. Experienced marksmen will be on site during those days to reduce the deer population.

Citing ecological issues, Essex County Executive Joe DiVincenzo noted, "We have been very successful in reducing the deer population in our reservations to a manageable level, which has enabled us to transition our program from aggressively removing deer and scaling it back to where our goal is to maintain the population. While we have made tremendous progress, it is important to continue this maintenance mode to preserve the forest habitat and maintain our reservations as viable resources for recreation and open space. Since we started in 2008, we have removed 922 deer from our reservations, started a program to accelerate the re-growth of our forests and introduced a pilot program to reduce traffic accidents involving deer. The over abundance of deer affects all of our communities, and our program provides a comprehensive approach to address the problem.” 

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There is no deer management scheduled for Eagle Rock Reservation.

To date, 1,515 deer (922 deer and 593 unborn deer) have been removed from the three reservations since 2008.

South Mountain Reservation is located in Maplewood, Millburn and West Orange, and Hilltop Reservation is located in Cedar Grove, North Caldwell and Verona. The Old Hospital Center site is located in Cedar Grove. Parking areas and roads in all locations will be closed to the public on the days the programs are held. Part of Fairview Avenue in Cedar Grove and Verona will also be closed to traffic.

Certified marksmen will once again be stationed on platforms in trees 20 feet off the ground and will only shoot at a downward angle. In 2013, after inspection, documentation, and processing, 2,291 pounds of venison were donated for distribution to the Community Food Bank of Hillside. Marksmen will receive 40 pounds of venison each.

Reforesting and replanting of native species and seeds continues in South Mountain and Eagle Rock Reservations.

According to the Essex County Executive's Office, the Deer Management program also seeks to ensure safety on public roads "through a pilot program with the NJ Department of Transportation. Essex County received grant money to install detection devices that reflect motor vehicle headlights and emit a high-pitched noise to scare deer away from the road when cars approach."

Reflectors were  installed along Cherry Lane, Brookside Drive, JFK Parkway and Parsonage Hill Road in Millburn, Livingston and West Orange.

In 2013, 222 dead deer were removed from County roads. 

For more information, go to http://www.essexcountynj.org/ or call 973-621-4400.