Who is Responsible for the Size of Our Deer Population?

NJ's deer herds have been sculpted by both the NJ Fish and Game Council and the NJ Division of Fish, Game and Wildlife for the sake of recreational hunting. These organizations have deliberately "managed" deer to create the largest population possible. The evidence for this comes directly from Fish and Games' own reports:

"Deer were reestablished in New Jersey by sportsmen-conservationists for the purpose of sport hunting. Since that "restocking period" the responsible agency (now the Division of Fish, Game and Wildlife) has been managing the deer resource for this purpose." An Assessment of Deer Hunting in New Jersey (pg.7)

"Habitat development and maintenance to benefit deer are conducted on 73 state owned Fish and Wildlife management areas totaling over 192,000 acres. Habitat management is encouraged on other public and private lands. Limited burning, wood harvest and planting of various agricultural crops favored by deer can increase the carrying capacity by increasing the quality and quantity of food available." An Assessment of Deer Hunting in New Jersey (pg.10)

"From the mid-1970's through the 1980's, the Division and the Fish and Game Council sought to allow deer numbers to increase within sections of the inner coastal plain including Salem, western Cumberland, Gloucester, northwestern Burlington and western Monmouth counties. By 1990, with the exceptions of Island Beach State Park, a small portion of Cape May County located below the Cape May canal and a few other isolated areas, deer occupied all available range." Governor's Report On Deer Management In New Jersey (pg.5)

When a large number of deer are removed from a herd through hunting, competition for food, water, space and breeding opportunities is reduced. The herd reacts to the sudden kill with increased breeding, and, with plenty of food to go around, more females become pregnant and twin and triplet births often occur.

In their 1990 report, An Assessment of Deer Hunting in New Jersey, Fish and Game offered a detailed example of this process:

"One of the most dramatic examples of the effect of habitat improvement or food availability on reproductive capacity occurred in the Earle Naval Ammunition Depot in Monmouth County. Range conditions improved in this case by an annual removal of deer by hunting.

Between 1968 and 1973 the reproductive rate almost doubled, an indication that the herd was in much healthier condition. The estimated fawn crop in 1969 was 116 fawns produced by 122 females, a reproductive rate of 0.95 fawns per doe, compared to 1974 when 78 does produced 133 fawns, or 1.70 fawns per doe (Burke et al. 1975)

New York reports similar improvement. In the western area of the state a 1.60 embryo/doe ratio existed in 1939-43. Following antlerless seasons, the reproductive rate increased to 1.90 embryos per doe in 1947-49. In areas where no antlerless seasons were held and the population density remained unchanged, fertility declined." (pg.15)

Fish and Game's report shows that even during hunting seasons in which killing female deer was the objective (anterless seasons), the remaining females had increased birthrates that not only replaced the ones killed, but increased the overall size of the herd.

In this century, Fish and Game has allowed the killing of more than 1,300,000 deer, 600,000 in the last decade alone, yet the population is larger than ever. If this is the end result of 100 years of deer management through killing, then killing is not effective in reducing deer populations.


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