After Years of Debate and Voting Saddle River Still Has a Deer Problem
After a vote in 2016 and multiple meetings on the issue, Saddle River still has a deer problem that won’t go away. This month NJ’s Environmental Commission recommended moving forward with a controlled hunt to reduce the overabundant population of deer that has been plaguing the town and its neighbors.
But due to a vote in November 2016 to use non-lethal measures, the Town is handicapped to do anything. Back in 2016, the town voted on 2 referendum questions on the deer issue – one if the borough should adopt a policy to use non-lethal means to cull the deer population. This passed with a vote of 715 to 457. Then the 2nd question asked if residents would want a deer management policy that would include the ability to kill deer. This also passed by a vote of 582 to 544.
The killing of deer became a major point of disagreement with many non-residents attending council meetings to politic their non-lethal viewpoint. This has to lead to a movement to not use non-lethal means for the solution of the deer population.
A member of the non-lethal group, Dean Cerf, a local veterinarian was assigned to head up a committee to come with a proposal for the problem. Their solution involves the capturing and spaying of female deer to control the population. The NJ Environmental Commission has never approved a plan from a town without a lethal component.
After months and months of inaction by the Deer committee and the Saddle River Town Council, the NJ Environmental Commission came in with their recommendation.
On Sept. 18th, 2017, at the recent Town Council meeting a vote was placed to submit Dean Cerf and his committee’s non-lethal deer management plan to the state. Even though the state has never approved a total non-lethal plan and has recommended that the town cull its deer population.
The vote by the Town Council was split 3 to 3 with Mayor Kurpis being the tie-breaking vote. With this vote the Town will submit their plan and wait for feedback from the state. With no action in the meanwhile set.
Deer Population and Its Effects
All of this is a backdrop to a town reeling from an increasing deer overpopulation. Besides the minor irritation of deer destroying all vegetation on private properties, there has been a dramatic increase of car-on-deer accidents inside the town and neighboring town borders.
According to The Bergen Record, Saddle River had 68 animal-vehicle collisions between the years 2014 and 2016. This is the 5th highest number of animal-on-vehicle collisions reported and is only topped by the numbers of the nearby towns of Washington Township, Ho-Ho-Kus, Woodcliff Lake and Montvale.
In addition to the health dangers of increase ticks and Lyme disease, there are now reports of large gangs of roaming coyotes in the town which some say is a by-product of the over-population of their natural food source – the deer. This was also bought up on the Sept. 18th town meeting as local residents are concerned for their and their children’s safety. An incident of a woman walking her dog, and being surrounded by a pack of coyotes was mentioned in the meeting as well.
Action leads to more Inaction
With the town now waiting for feedback from the state, the status quo on the deer population will stay the same. With a large and vocal non-lethal group driving the agenda for the town on the deer issue, the issue will stay the same in Saddle River. Tragically while the non-lethal group cares about the welfare of the deer, more and more deer will be killed by cars on the road and by the pack of coyotes roaming the woods of Saddle River.