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Parks closed: gotta cull the deer herd

Frost covers a leaf at Scherman Hoffman Wildlife Sanctuary.

This morning I thought it would be good to go to Lord Stirling Park in Basking Ridge, NJ, which is adjacent to the Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge.  They are essentially the same place, they are only separated by the Passaic River and a different name. I got there while it was still fairly dark, taking advantage of the last day of daylight savings time. Now I have to get up an hour earlier to see the sun rise. I got out of the Jeep and saw a sign that said Trails Closed and then a rope across the main trail. Hanging off the rope was a little sign saying something about deer management. In other words hunters were in there culling the herd. So I thought I’d just go over to the NWR, I still had plenty of time before the sun came up. Of course, only hunters were allowed. I’m sure I could have found a trail in but a bored hunter might take a shot for fun.

Mist rises from a waterfalls at Lendells Pond in Mendham, NJ.

I understand the need to hold down the deer population. There are too many and when there is a tough winter, there won’t be enough food for them to sustain themselves. They are changing the landscape, you can see a browse line at their head height in any woods in the area. Many people complain about the deer eating their scrubs, I don’t care about that, but no new growth is happening because the deer eat tree saplings before they have a chance to grow. But I hate having the image in my head of a deer being shot by an arrow and then running in pain for however long it takes for the deer to bleed to death. I guess that is better than starving to death.

So I went over to the Audubon Society’s place, which is only a few miles away. They didn’t have any hunters but I was there before they opened the gate. So I drove around the property and came upon a water falls at the end of Ledells Pond in Mendham. It seems like I have been shooting lots of waterfalls lately but it looked good as the mist rose.

I went back over to the Audubon sanctuary and while I was driving around I saw three large bucks. I couldn’t tell if they were in the rut or scared by the hunters, but they looked nervous. Hopefully they didn’t stroll under a hunter’s tree stand.

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