As a concerned citizen of Essex County, I support deer culling in our reservations and urge that it be continued. I am disturbed that the County is now considering stopping its deer management program in the South Mountain, Eagle Rock, and Hilltop Reservations.
Several years of controlled hunts in our reservations have reduced the overall number of deer, but it is not enough -- our natural parks are still being over-browsed and we cannot stop reducing the herd for even one year. Continued deer culling is urgently needed to not only save the forest, but reduce proliferation of Lyme disease, collisions with cars, erosion due to lack of vegetation, and stress on remaining deer.
I agree with wildlife biologists, deer management experts and forest ecologists on the need to bring deer densities down below 10 per square mile in order to allow our forests to regenerate and restore their ecological balance. Current deer populations still average more than 4 times that number. Without additional culling the forest understory will continue to be stripped, and we will lose not only the forest but more of the many birds, insects and other animals who depend on a healthy and diverse ecosystem.
Too often, County officials hear only the strident minority opposing any feasible method to manage the deer population. I am a member of the usually less vocal majority who cherishes our reservations and believes controlled hunts are critical if our forests and ecosystems are to regenerate and thrive for the enjoyment of future generations.