Deer Management taking place in local parks

shutterstock_143344153The County of Union is conducting a Deer Management program in seven parks to prevent the destruction of native park vegetation, minimize damage to residential landscaping, and reduce deer-related auto accidents.

Officials stress that this not a sport hunt and that carefully selected hunters with a proficiency in marksmanship, sitting in elevated tree stands, are using shotguns to remove deer from various areas of each park.  These hunters are acting as agents of the County at the Watchung Reservation, Passaic River Park in Summit, Lenape and Nomahegan Parks, Ash Brook Reservation, Oak Ridge Park and at the City of Linden’s Hawk Rise Sanctuary.

The results of spotlight counts conducted in April, 2016 suggest 2016-2017 overwintering densities of 47 deer per square mile in the Watchung Reservation, over 200 per square mile in and around Lenape and Nomahegan Parks, 154 per square mile in and around Ash Brook Reservation and Oak Ridge Park, and 110 deer per square mile in the Hawk Rise Sanctuary.

The goal for density is 20 deer/square mile or less which would mean removing:
• 60 deer from Watchung Reservation
• 40 deer from Lenape and Nomahegan Parks
• 5 deer from the Passaic River Park in Summit
• 75 deer from Ash Brook Reservation and Oak Ridge Park
• 15 deer from the Hawk Rise Sanctuary.

Right now,

Hunting in all of those parks will occur on Mondays from January 9 to February 6. In the event of a holiday (MLK Day on January 16) or inclement weather on a Monday, the hunting activity will be moved to Wednesday of that week. Inclement weather on Wednesday would push the program to Friday.

Lenape and Nomahegan Parks will be closed on days when hunting is underway. However, no other parks will be closed during the conduct of this program.

The first day of the annual Union County Deer Management Program, January 9 resulted in the death of 63 deer in total from six county parks and one municipal park:

Watchung Reservation (Berkeley Heights, Mountainside, Scotch Plains, Springfield, Summit) – 28
Passaic River Park (Summit) – 9
Lenape Park (Cranford, Kenliworth, Springfield, Union, Westfield) – 5
Nomahegan Park (Cranford, Kenliworth, Springfield, Union, Westfield) – 1
Ash Brook Reservation (Clark, Scotch Plains) – 9
Oak Ridge Park (Clark) – 3
Hawk Rise Sanctuary (Linden) – 8

For more information on this program and to read the program guidelines go to or call Dan Bernier, Division of Park Environmental Services, at 908-789-3682 or email him at

All costs for the conduct of this deer management program will be borne by the County of Union and the individual hunters. Some of the venison that will derive from this program will be used to feed the needy and the homeless through the Community FoodBank of New Jersey.


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Author: Patricia Cassin


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