COLTS NECK – Two ordinances have been adopted by the Township Committee that amend the municipal code regarding the hunting and feeding of white-tailed deer in Colts Neck.
One ordinance will remove language from the municipal code that limits the discharge of a weapon or firearm on parcels 3 acres or larger for the purposes of hunting and replaces it with language that limits hunting to bow and arrow hunting from an elevated position at least 10 feet above the ground.
The ordinance includes language which states that “if a hunter is hunting on a parcel that is the aggregated contiguous acreage of more than one owner, the hunter must have the written and dated permission of all of the property owners, which shall be in the hunter’s possession while hunting.”
Following a public hearing on Nov. 13, a motion was made to adopt the ordinance. Mayor Thomas Orgo and committeemen J.P. Bartolomeo, Russell Macnow and Michael Viola voted “yes.” Deputy Mayor Frank Rizzuto voted “no” on the motion.
In previous discussions about the topic, Rizzuto said he was opposed to amending the municipal code in this way due to public safety concerns.
The second ordinance amends the municipal code regarding the prohibition of feeding wildlife in Colts Neck.
The ordinance amends the municipal code to include the following statement: “To additionally prohibit the feeding of white-tailed deer anywhere within Colts Neck, including without limitation upon private property, so as to protect the public health, safety and welfare … No person shall feed white-tailed deer on any property within Colts Neck, including publicly or privately owned property … ”
Bartolomeo commented on the ordinance, saying, “We battled hard on this one because how do you enforce a law like this? With the deer problem we have, if we deter one person from feeding the deer, because they want to follow the rules, it’s better than not deterring that person.
“We are voting to pass this ordinance because it’s at least another step. It’s the same problem across the state. I come from Bayonne and there are deer in Bayonne. … Down here, we are getting crushed like in Marlboro and Manalapan, and forget about Millstone Township where there are fields of deer. We are trying, even though we are chipping away at an iceberg, hopefully, these little things will make a difference,” Bartolomeo said.
One resident said passing a law that is difficult to enforce may put police officers in a difficult situation and is an inefficient way of using the legal system.
“This is an ordinance which will be primarily enforced by code enforcement (personnel),” Rizzutto said. “Someone may call in and say an infraction has been observed (and) the person who committed that infraction would receive a notice (which informs them) they have a certain amount of time to correct or stop their actions.
“I have a more optimistic view of the enforcement of this law because it can be done. Just because it’s somewhat difficult does not mean it shouldn’t be on the books. As people all over town know, something needs to be done (about the deer) and these are the first steps we are taking to rectify the problem,” Rizzuto said.
Municipal officials said baiting deer for the purpose of hunting them would not be illegal under the ordinance which prohibits feeding the animals.
On a motion to adopt the no-feeding ordinance, Rizzuto, Bartolomeo, Macnow and Viola voted “yes” and Orgo abstained.
And, committee members announced that their final meeting of 2019 will be held at 7:30 p.m. on Dec. 11 at Town Hall.