PLAINFIELD, NJ - This week's City Council meeting included a public hearing on deer management. Prior to hearing from residents, Council President Charles McRae stated that there is no program currently planned in Plainfield.
The council had approved a deer control program that took place in the Cushing Road Detention Basin earlier this year, from Jan. 2 to Feb. 17. Ten deer were killed in that bow and arrow hunt by the Oak Ridge Sportsmen’s Association, with animal activists criticizing the program to reduce the population of white-tailed deer.
On Monday, Animal Initiative Committee member Marie Ansari said that killing does not affect long term reduction of deer complaints. "The deer kill of last year only served to antagonize neighbors, and to increase our mistrust of elected officials who seemed to fail us. We call for living in harmony in a peaceful Plainfield. No more kills."
"I urge you to not do it," Angelo Mone said in reference to deer kills. "My question is what is the motivation for a deer kill? Is it flowers? Is it the thrill of the kill? Is it money?"
Charles Sporn of Woodland Ave. said that there does not seem to be any way to control the deer population, referring to a New York Times article entitled, "Deer Make the Worst Neighbors."
Sporn noted, "Our yard has become a transit point for deer moving from one part of Plainfield to another." He said he has spent thousands of dollars in fencing and chemicals to treat plants, but health issues top his list of concerns.
Sporn said his wife has had Lyme four times. "If this was an animal which did not give rise to the aesthetics that deer obviously do, and the feelings that deer do, I think we would be approaching this in a very different way."
Lyle Kamenir, who lives in Netherwood Heights, said he has specific concerns with the abundance of deer that include both the ticks they carry and fecal droppings that pose a threat to humans and pets.
Kamenir read a letter he received from Business Administrator Carlos Sanchez regarding Plainfield's participation in the Union County deer management program: "Unfortunately many residents were dissatisfied with this program since it was based on professional hunting of the deer population. Further, because the program captured fewer than ten deer last year, the administration has decided to not participate in the program this year. We are continuing to search for the cost-effective and efficient options to address this town, city, and state-wide issue."
"It concerns me that the city decided to abandon this option after only one year," Kamenir said. "This is the only method of control currently available and sanctioned by Union County."
Kamenir offered information about an immunocontraceptive vaccine adapted for the management of deer called Zonastat- D, or PZP, that has been approved federally by the Environmental Protection Agency, but is not yet approved for use in New Jersey. He urged the council to do what they can to help progress its approval.
Gloria Binkowski said, "Plainfield officials, you jumped on the killing bandwagon last year. Let's not do it again. Let's take the high road of peaceful coexistence. Let's be the good guys here. No blood should be shed for shrubbery."
Dr. Mary Wacholz of Belvidere Ave. said she is interested in the disease burdens that are associated with deer. She said that in the 25 years she's lived in Plainfield, there's been the tick that carries Lyme to now six species of ticks, including one that causes Rocky Mountain spotted fever.
"We now have these disease burdens here," Wacholz said. "And what I would ask the council to think about is how we can we get more granular information about what's going on in Plainfield, has this increased over time, and if there is a public health approach to trying to understand what's going on, and to do something about it."
Victoria Brown of Osborne Ave. said her concern is related to health. She said she has up to six deer in her yard every day, and worries about the droppings. "We want to be humane in managing the deer. But I do think the health issues are very important."
Mary Ellen Chanda said deer killings are "homicide for hosta."
Councilman Cory Storch said he's heard from residents on both sides of the issue. "I just wanted to make my position clear on it, and also comment on what we might do in the future."
Storch said overpopulation is a concern. "How do we have policies that foster an environmental balance?" He said he does not feel that one deer hunt in Plainfield is sufficient, adding, "I support another hunt." He added that the council should also learn more about the new contraceptive.
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