WATCHUNG, NJ - Watchung’s six square miles have always been considered a semi-rural community that embraces nature and wildlife.  A 2001 New York Times article complimented the community. “Watchung offers large properties, undulating hills, narrow winding roads, abundant wildlife and two lakes: Watchung Lake and Best Lake.”

The 2016/2017 Deer Management program is a Borough controlled program that commenced this year on November 28th and is scheduled to continue through early February. Six sites in Watchung have been made available to professional hunters for deer culling using shotguns that includes three private properties and three Borough-owned properties. This year’s program is conducted in the same format that has been previously utilized under the Community Based Deer Management Program.

A number of Watchung residents are making strides to better understand the methodology behind the program by attending Town Council Meetings to discuss the issue.  In fact, concerned people plan to attend this Thursday, February 2nd and hope to have a few of their questions answered including an assessment of the current deer population and how that may affect future hunts.  The issue of deer culling is on the agenda.   

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Watchung has a special committee, the Wildlife Management Advisory Committee that meets 4 times a year. This Committee currently has 5 members who have the responsibility of making policy recommendations to the Mayor and Council for the management of wildlife. A maximum of 7 members can serve on the Wildlife Management Advisory Committee.

As wildlife populations change in Watchung and surrounding towns, many Watchung residents hope that the Mayor, Council, and the Wildlife Management Advisory Committee develop policies that adapt accordingly.  Ray Barratt who lives on Valley Road stated, “We need to focus on safety and better control of firearms being used in our small community.”

Rachel Funcheon, another Watchung resident, would like people to support efforts to stop or limit the hunt.  She commented, “Watchung’s deer population has been cut way down, yet the hunt continues year after year.”  Funcheon hopes that many residents will attend the February 2nd Mayor and Council meeting.

For more information and to become involved with other members of the Watchung community who would like to address the issue of deer culling, please e-mail raybaratt@msn.com or call him at 732.261.6431.