How Killing Female Deer at the Watchung Reservation Increased Birth Rates and Reproduction


The Watchung Reservation in Union County was the first area to use "Community Based Deer Management". From 1993 to 2001, more than 1,000 deer were either killed or wounded in the Reservation. In 1994, an infra-red air count of deer showed only 139 deer on 4,600 acres of land, 2,000 of which was the Reservation. That means that there were less than 100 deer in the Reservation itself when the hunts were initiated.

The deer in the reservation lived under non-hunting conditions for nearly a century before hunting was initiated, and had only reached a population height of 100, yet, in nine short years, more than 1,000 deer were produced and killed, and dozens, perhaps hundreds of others, were created and immigrated to other neighboring areas. How is such a thing possible? This the effect that hunting has on deer, and, thanks to the reports produced on the Reservation hunts, we now have the evidence that proves it.

The Watchung Reservation deer hunts targeted females and were designed to kill as many females as possible. After each female deer was killed at the Reservation, her womb was cut open and the fetuses, still alive, were removed. The study detailing the results of this can be found on page 25 of the 1997 Union County Parks Department report titled "Deer Management Program For Watchung Reservation".

All of the pregnant females killed during the first hunt had only one fetus in her womb. No twins or triplets were recorded at all. After the second year, 57% of the pregnant deer that were killed had twins in their wombs. After the third year, 60% of the pregnant deer killed had twins, and 8% had triplets. From this point on, the overwhelming majority of deer that were pregnant at the Reservation were producing either two or three offspring. In other words, as soon as hunting was introduced, the deer reacted with a massive increase in offspring production.

This is the heart of the matter: Before being hunted, female deer gave birth to only one child. Afterwards, it was double or triple that. This is what hunting does to deer. It is the reason why killing deer, female or male, doesn't reduce deer herds