On 2nd January 2024, officials of Essex County, New Jersey, US, announced that they are bringing back an annual deer hunt despite the protest of animal rights organisations. County officials have maintained that the cull is not the only way the county is trying to manage the deer population, but they went ahead and approved the killing anyway.
The mass killing will take place at South Mountain Reservation (in Maplewood, Millburn and West Orange) on the following Tuesdays: January 16, 23 and 30 and February 6 and 13. The cull will also be held at Hilltop Reservation (in Cedar Grove, North Caldwell and Verona) on the following Thursdays: January 11, 18 and 25 and February 1, 8, 15 and 22. These locations will be closed to the public on these days. Since 2008, 3,057 deers have been killed as part of the annual cull, but it was paused in 2021 and 2022 due to covid.
The group Our Green West Orange denounced the return of the annual cull in 2023. They said the following when they complained to officials about it: “We strongly oppose gunmen in our suburban reservations killing our deer. Our reservations are meant for hiking, not for killing. Isn’t there enough violence in our county without having to hear gunshots in our backyards or watch dead carcasses being carried out of our beloved reservation? We urge you to stop wasting our taxpayer money and spend the $1 million or so that you have wasted over the years to plant trees (and use deer protection as you do in Brookdale Park, which allows the trees to grow with no issue).”
The League of Humane Voters of New Jersey stated before a protest of the Essex County hunt in 2017, “Deer are social, intelligent, and gentle animals whose lives matter to them, their offspring, and to their family units…Deer can feel pain and suffering just like us.”