Surrounded by deer in New Jersey
As their natural habitat continues to get smaller and smaller, a growing number of deer are showing up in suburban New Jersey neighborhoods.
Many people are complaining that the streets where they live, as well as their front lawns, are now routinely overrun with herds of deer moving through the area, looking for food and a comfortable place to spend the night.
"We estimate New Jersey has at least 100,000 deer in areas where hunting is permitted, so a very organized program is in place to try and control the population," said Larry Ragonese, director of communications for the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection. "We have thousands of hunters across New Jersey that are out each year with bow and firearms."
Ragonese said in more suburban areas "where there's more difficulty, many of the towns have set up limited hunting and limited culling. In some cases, they bring in sharpshooters."
Several deer contraception studies are underway, but so far none of them have panned out.
"They've not been able to come up, to this point, with any type of a long-lasting contraceptive," Ragonese said. "The only thing you can do with the contraceptives is, if you shoot a deer this year, you'd have to find the same deer again next year."
Ragonese also said keeping deer away from plants of any kind can be challenging.
"If you're fencing, you've got to have an 8- to 10-foot fence," he said. "You can also opt to buy deerproof plants that the animals usually don't enjoy eating, but it does limit what you can do. If you want tulips or plants of that type, you're going to find it's like the candy store for deer."
All in all, it is not easy to keep the population from increasing.
"We've made some progress, but you still have the problem of deer running up and down the highways and through neighborhoods all the time," Ragonese said.
Hunters kill an estimated 50,000 deer per year, with an additional 25,000 killed in car accidents.