Trained marksmen were responsible for killing 152 deer at two reservations as part of the sixth year of Essex County’s deer management program, county officials announced Wednesday.
The program, which ended last week, will continue into 2014, County Executive Joseph N. DiVincenzo Jr. said at a press conference to discuss the program at the South Mountain Reservation.
"There's no question for the last six years this program has been very successful," DiVincenzo said. "This will program will continue next year."
This comes a year after DiVincenzo announced the continuation of the deer management program this year was under discussion by the county.
However, the county did scale back the program from last year's 24 hunting sessions in 12 days to nine sessions in six days.
According to county records, 43 deer and 19 unborn deer were culled from the South Mountain Reservation and 61 deer and 29 unborn deer from the Hilltop Reservation. There was no hunting this year at Eagle Rock Reservation.
The program, which ran from Jan. 22 to Feb. 7, involved 15 licensed and specially trained hunters, down seven participants from last year, county officials said.
The deer management program aims to control deer population and restore undergrowth destroyed by deer to prevent future erosion in the reservations. Previously, the county’s wildlife management consultant Daniel Bernier explained the reservations should have five deer per square mile to allow the forest to properly regenerate.
The county will have spotlight counts late March to early April to evaluate this year's program and create projections for next year, Bernier said.
Since 2008, more than 1,500 deer have been culled from the three reservations, according to statistics provided by county officials. In 2012, 274 deer were removed, 339 deer were removed in 2011, 252 in 2010, 138 in 2009 and 360 in 2008.
Part of the venison was collected and donated to the New Jersey Food Bank to feed the homeless and the needy, Bernier said.
Hunters who worked at least six shifts were given 40 pounds of venison.