New Jersey is the most urban state in the nation, yet certain areas have over 110 deer per square mile.For those of you who do not know what that means, the scientifically accepted density to sustain a healthy deer population and ecosystem, is 5-15 deer per square mile.
This means that herds this large can be found eating your manicured landscape plantings, being hit by cars on rural and even urban roads, preventing the regrowth of our forests by eating native saplings and ravaging crops in our agricultural fields.
At such large numbers, they are even a threat to themselves, spreading disease and suffering by starvation when the lush landscapes subside.
As a farmer in the Garden State, deer are one of the most severe threats to our agricultural viability. Farmers in our area have had to abandon growing on certain fields or completely stop planting specific crops entirely because of the huge losses. Imagine losing a quarter of your paycheck every week while you sleep, that is what happens to us.
Deer are present in neighborhoods and park refuges, coming to our fields after dark to fill themselves on our crops. The result is a devastating economic loss of nearly $15 million annually in high-value agricultural production.
There is a package of bills that will soon be moving through the Legislature to responsibly address this issue. We ask our elected officials to finally put New Jersey on a course to bring the exploding deer population that is plundering our state back into balance. For the safety of our motorists, the future of our forests, and the health of our local food supply, we must take action now.
John R. Hart, Jr.
Farmer, Hopewell Township
Member, Mercer County Board of Agriculture
Member, Hopewell Township Agriculture Advisory Committee