Bernardsville Deer Management Plan Hits Speed Bump


BERNARDSVILLE NJ - At Monday night's Bernardsville Borough Council meeting, the borough’s Green Team presented a deer management plan for council consideration and approval. The Green Team initially requested the council to approve the plan with a beginning date of September or October; however, implementation of the plan hit a speed bumps during the meeting.

Ed English, a member of the Board of Adjustment and Green Team, made the presentation. English reported that the deer management plan has been a work in progress since 2011. The plan was is the result of extensive research by the Green Team.  While the purpose of the plan is to recommend a way to thin the herds in Bernardsville, English made it clear to the council that the plan considers factors such as safety and the environment in addition to the damage that deer tend to do to shrubs and vegetation in residential areas.

The Green Team recommends a bow hunt on five borough-owned properties, and has identified a group to perform the hunts. The Green Team introduced Warren Blue Ridge Sportsman’s Club to the council.  The club has conducted deer hunts for three Somerset County municipalities. They have conducted hunts for Bridgewater over the past 13 years, for Warren over a seven-year period and for Watchung for the past four years, according to club president Joe Nappe.

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At the outset, English suggested that the council approve hunting on borough lands in September and October.  The next hunting season in the area will be the fall bow season from Sept. 12 to Oct. 30.

So what stands in the way of implementation of the plan before the beginning of the next season?

The borough ordinances do not allow for hunting on borough owned land.  Borough Attorney John Pidgeon read directly from the borough code during the hearing.  As such, the council would have to pass an amended ordinance allowing for a deer hunt on borough owned land.

Passage of an ordinance is a two-step process under New Jersey law. The first step is to introduce the ordinance by title on first reading at a borough council meeting. The next available meeting is Sept. 14.  After advertising the ordinance in full, the council votes on the ordinance in its final form at a subsequent meeting.

At the end of the presentation, the mayor and council established an ad hoc committee to review the matter with the state and with the Bernardsville Police Department.  Council members Waite and Youngblood volunteered to serve on the committee.

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