White-tailed deer continue to increase their numbers in suburban areas of New Jersey and even in the cities.

The ongoing population growth has been acknowledged by groups and officials as a problem for land owners, drivers, and the state's ecosystem.

So what can New Jersey do about it? The same question is asked year after year.

"Right now, we think it is a problem that's being tolerated and should not be," said Peter Furey, executive director of the New Jersey Farm Bureau.

The Farm Bureau cites a "deer overpopulation emergency" on its website. The group suggests that New Jersey would be equipped to handle a population size one-third of what currently exists.

"We'd like to see some better methods of estimating the population, so we're all on the same page," Furey said.

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A decline in hunting pressures is considered a top reason for the boom in deer population over time. Less than 1% of New Jersey's population holds a hunting license.

According to the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, about 38,300 deer were harvested during the 2022-2023 hunting seasons. That number was as high as 55,000 in 2020. The count topped 60,000 yearly in the early 2000s.

"Increased deer-vehicle collisions, damage to agricultural crops, ornamental plantings and gardens, and destruction of the natural forest ecosystem are some of the problems associated with overabundant deer populations," DEP says on its website.

The state notes that historically, the population has been managed through recreational hunting. To combat problems tied to denser developments that do not permit hunting, officials have taken steps such as lengthening hunting seasons and increasing bag limits.

But advocates claim that a sharper focus on hunting won't do much to address the issue.

Non-lethal approaches such as increased fencing and the sterilization of deer have been suggested as possible solutions, but both are considered to be costly.

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