A total of 407 deer were harvested at parks in Monmouth County this year, 55 of which were in Freehold, in an effort to manage the deer population and preserve land.Sixteen park areas were hunted for a total of 8,334 hunter days, according to the 2012-13 Deer Annual Report, adopted by the Board of Recreation Commissioners in July.
The hunting program, instituted in 2004, is conducted to reduce the white-tailed deer population at county parks and improve forest health and wildlife diversity, the Monmouth County Park System’s website says.
“Changes in the forest composition from deer damage are clearly visible at many county park sites, threatening natural resources that were intended to be preserved by the County’s acquisition of the land,” the annual report states.
The objective of the deer management program is to maintain healthy forest by reducing the deer population to a maximum of 10 per square mile, the report said.
Our interactive map breaks down the number of deer that were harvested throughout the county. Adjust the map and click on the dots to get details on a specific location.
In Freehold, hunting was done at Turkey Swamp Park. There were 135 hunters in Middletown and a total of 1,293 hunting days. Hunting at Turkey Swamp Park was done by crossbow and other bow. During the 2012-13 season, 55 deer were harvested compared to the previous year’s 47.
There were 74 less deer harvested in Monmouth County this year.
“Superstorm Sandy had a major impact on deer hunting in Monmouth County due to its time of occurrence as it relates to the rut (breeding season),” the report said.
Breeding season and deer harvest opportunity is at its height from mid-October through November, the report said. Fewer hunters were able to participate in the 2012-13 season, as some may have relocated while others had to tend to personal property damage.
Additionally, immediately following the storm, travel was limited, and cleanup still continues today, the report said. Hunting areas also sustained damage, creating difficult hunting conditions.
“Staff observed that hunting was very limited for the first three weeks of November; hunters began to return to the hunting areas towards the end of November,” the report said.
The following are statistics provided in the 2012-13 annual report:
- Monmouth County issued 810 hunting access permits for the 2012-13 season; 54 percent were for Monmouth County residents.
- 86 percent of permitted hunters actually hunted in Monmouth County during the season.
- 28 percent of the permitted hunters harvested at least one deer.
- 407 deer were harvested at the 16 park areas during the season; 225 or 55 percent of the deer harvested were female.
- 47 percent of the deer were harvested by crossbow, 47 percent by other bow or arrow, zero by muzzleloader and 6 percent by shotgun.
- The harvest of 225 does is indicative of a total single season population reduction ranging from approximately 519 to 745. The total population reduction achieved by the hunt exceeds the number of deer harvested because of the lost reproductive capacity of each female deer harvested.
To determine the effectiveness of the program, the County Shade Tree Commission conducts deer population counts through aerial and spotlight counts. According to the report, based on 2010 aerial counts, the population remains above the 10 deer per square mile density goal.
The 2012 spotlight counts estimated densities ranging from four to 248 per square mile.
Permits for the 2013-14 hunting season go on sale Tuesday, Sept. 10 for $20.
The following are hunting dates for Freehold parks:
- Turkey Swamp Park: Oct. 1-Jan. 31, bow only (portions of the park do not open to hunting until Nov. 16)
Changes to the program instituted for the 2013-14 hunting season include:
- Hunting will be reinstated at Hartshorne Woods Park in Middletown
- The hunted area at Huber Woods Park in Middletown will expand with the addition of a Category 2 hunt. Category 2 is defined as those areas with regular public visitation that are closed to use during hunting.
- The hunted area at Holmdel Park will expand to include the north section of the park as a Category 2 Deer Management Area for crossbow hunting only.