Colts Neck officials review deer hunting regulations


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By Peter Elacqua
Staff Writer

COLTS NECK – Members of the Township Committee are considering the possibility of taking action to amend the ordinance that allows deer hunting on certain properties in the municipality.

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During a recent meeting, two members of the Colts Neck Wildlife Committee presented the panel’s recommendations regarding possible changes to the ordinance that allows residents to hunt white-tailed deer on a limited number of properties in the township.

In 2014, the Township Committee adopted an ordinance that permits residents to hunt deer on properties of 5 acres or larger with the written permission of the property owner.

The ordinance states that no person can possess a loaded firearm within 450 feet of any occupied building or a nocked arrow within 150 feet of an occupied building. No firearms or nocked arrows may be closer than 450 feet to any school playground.

In May, Wildlife Committee members Michael Viola and Robert Mahoney came before the Township Committee with three recommendations: a residential component, a county component and a municipal component.

The residential component recommends amending the ordinance to permit hunting on properties of 3 acres or more or on aggregated lots of 3 acres or more with consent from the property owner.

The Wildlife Committee is recommending changing the ordinance to only allow bow hunting on properties of between 3 and 5 acres. The amendment will not prohibit hunters from using firearms on properties of 5 acres or more, as long as they have the consent of the property owner.

The representatives of the Wildlife Committee said the idea behind the recommendation is to permit hunting on more properties as a way of controlling the deer population.

“We still have a challenge with managing the deer population in Colts Neck,” Viola said. “It is dramatically affecting the forest. We all have experienced damage on our properties, we see it on community property, farmers have had dramatic impact to their crops. It has had a dramatic affect on other species …”

The county component of the panel’s proposal is to ask Monmouth County officials to consider adding Dorbrook Park and the Hominy Hill golf course to the deer management program and to open those locations during hunting season.

The municipal component is to adjust the township code in order to allow resident hunters to hunt on specific municipal properties as long as they follow proper protocol such as attending an annual training course provided by the state Department of Environmental Protection Department of Fish and Wildlife and undertaking bow proficiency testing.

Viola asked the Township Committee members to consider opening the availability of hunting on municipal properties to municipal employees.

Mahoney said the Colts Neck Police Department would maintain a list of resident hunters and each hunter would have a tag identifying his vehicle. If a resident had a concern about somebody hunting without permission, he could contact the police and provide a vehicle’s license plate number to verify if the hunter was registered with the township.

One resident asked the Wildlife Committee members if they had a specific number of hunters in mind.

“Once we figure out the properties (available for hunting), we can calculate the hunters we need,” Viola said in response.

He followed up by saying there would be an application process and a lottery for a limited number of spots.

Township Committee members said more discussion will occur before any changes are made to the ordinance.

“We are not rushing into anything,” Committeeman Russell Macnow said. “We will take our time and consider everything we need to consider before we make a decision.”

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