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January 19, 1999

For more information contact:
Fred Carlson at 609-292-6685

The Fish and Game Council today authorized the Director of the Division of Fish, Game and Wildlife to grant a two-week extension of the current 1998-99 Permit Shotgun Deer Season for a portion of west-central New Jersey. In addition, Site Specific Special Wildlife Management Permits will be issued for the remainder of the Permit Shotgun Season as well as the two-week extension, to hunters who have permission to hunt a particular farm that has historically experienced deer damage in a zone where permits have sold out. Also, as an aid to the farm community, special crop depredation permits will be issued during February and March to farmers with a previous history of deer damage.

"The extended season and special permits are the result of Division efforts to work cooperatively with farmers experiencing deer damage," said Division Director Bob McDowell. "Unfortunately, the severe drought New Jersey has experienced since the summer has forced the deer population to rely on agricultural crops more heavily than under normal conditions."

"The only way to successfully deal with this problem is to allow a sufficient number of hunters access to the areas suffering agricultural losses," said Fish and Game Council Chairman Charles Suk, who is also a farmer. This 11-member council has the independent responsibility to adopt a fish and game code for the purpose of providing for the protection and conservation of fish and wildlife. "The biggest challenge facing deer management today is providing hunters with access to the land and the deer."

A recent study by the Rutgers University Center for Wildlife Damage Control determined that 43% of the farmers surveyed indicated the presence of a deer refuge within one mile of their most severe losses. In those areas where hunters are allowed on the land, the deer herd is under control and crop damage is minimal.

The Permit Shotgun Season was extended in response to the agricultural community, including the State Board of Agriculture, the Hunterdon County Board of Agriculture and various local communities that have been reporting excessive damage to agricultural crops due to an over abundance of deer and an inadequate harvest of deer in the area. Dates for the Permit Shotgun Season ONLY have been extended from February 1-13 in zones 7, 8, 10, 11, 12 and 41 (encompassing all of Hunterdon and parts of southern Warren, western Somerset, southern Morris and northern Mercer counties). Harvested deer must be taken to a deer check station located within the zones open for the extended season. All other current regulations/requirements apply, including daily and season bag limits, method of take, permits and tagging.

Site Specific Special Wildlife Management Permits will be valid for the remainder of the regular Permit Shotgun Deer Season as well as the two-week extension, for the specific farm applied for and will not be transferable. Not more than one permit per ten acres will be issued. Individuals wishing to take advantage of this program must complete an application that can be obtained by calling the Division at 609-292-9173.

Farmer crop depredation permits, known as Permits to Shoot Wild Deer, will be issued to farmers with a previous history of damage to protect fields on which damage by deer was documented by the Wildlife Control Unit and on which the farmer intends to plant grain or other crops, whether or not a crop is currently growing. Permits to Shoot Wild Deer issued in February and March will be valid for a minimum of three months duration. Farmers will be required to report activity on the permit to the Division on a monthly basis. For more information call 908-735-8793.

The Division's Wildlife Control Unit works hard to assist farmers with damage complaints. Each year, the Division issues more than 500 permits to shoot deer in situations of substantial crop damage, distributes 350 rolls of mesh wire for fence construction and 600 gallons of deer repellent. The Division also administers the Deer Fencing Grant Program through the Department of Agriculture. Through this program, the Division will distribute an additional 5,000 rolls of mesh wire for fencing. In addition, the Division has developed a landowner guide for farmers to control deer. The guide offers a practical approach to deer population control based on professional management techniques. The Division will also provide assistance to farmers who want to implement the program. For a free copy of the brochure, write to the Division of Fish, Game and Wildlife, P.O. Box 400, Trenton, NJ 08625-0400, Attn: Landowner Guide.