You know why NJ has so many car crashes? Not enough cougars, report says
TRENTON — A conservation study concludes that bringing cougars to New Jersey could help control the deer population and cut down on crashes involving cars and deers.
The Society for Conservation Biology study concludes said that introducing carnivore to the population could reduce the deer population by 22 percent and prevent 21,400 injuries within 30 years on the East Coast. The study cites the presence of cougar in South Dakota in preventing over $1 million in collision costs annually.
"Large carnivore restoration could provide valuable ecosystem services through such socio-ecological cascades, and these benefits could offset the societal costs of coexistence," the report reads.
In New Jersey, the report estimates, 24 injuries could be avoided.
A New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection fact sheet said bobcats and cougars are listed as an endangered species.
Their population is on the rise, but New Jersey is not an ideal place for them, according to the DEP.
"The constant threat from habitat loss and fragmentation, changes in land use, the existence of barriers to free movement between suitable habitats and automobile collisions on our busy and abundant roadways will likely limit the growth of NJ’s bobcat population," the DEP concludes.
DEP spokesman Larry Hajna told NJ Advance Media New Jersey's population is too dense to reintroduce many cougers — "you're never too far from someone's home," he said.
"To put a cougar into those residential areas ... makes absolutely no sense," Hajna said.