With the help of the West Windsor Police Department, she was eventually coaxed to leave our home, but not until she had rearranged the furniture in our dining room and living room, leaving a blood trail on our floors, furniture and walls. Needless to say, this was a traumatic experience for my wife and me, as well as for the frightened deer.
Like many local residents, I know of several friends who have collided with deer on our roadways. I have heard stories of damage to farmers’ crops, landscaping and outside structures. I know of many people, myself included, who have suffered from Lyme Disease and other tick-borne illnesses associated with the white-tailed deer.
I also know the issues surrounding deer and attempts at controlling the population can be emotional. Some will say that aggressive culling is the answer, while others will argue that it is we who invaded their territories. Being a medical researcher, I decided to investigate the facts.
It comes as no surprise that white-tailed deer are thriving across the U.S. with numbers estimated at 30 million—a population surpassing 49 of our 50 states. Deer-vehicle collisions kill upwards of 300 people and hospitalize nearly 30,000 more annually across the country.
Here in New Jersey, we have more than 120,000 white-tailed deer. The impact on our roadways is obvious to see. Statistics compiled by West Windsor Police Department show 240 deer/vehicle incidents over the last 5 years—averaging nearly 1 per week.
The CDC reports a total of 2,706 confirmed cases of Lyme disease in Mercer County between 2002 and 2016. By their own estimate, the actual number may be ten-fold higher, or 27,060 cases. Non-agricultural damage (autos/homes) in N.J. is estimated at over $10 million annually.
The recent explosion in white-tailed deer has been attributed to the removal of both natural predation and human hunting combined with plentiful food and water found in our suburban communities. Realistically, the solution to overpopulation is to reduce the number of reproducing deer.
Sterilization programs have found limited success due to high costs and the amount of effort required. Relocation strategies have failed as they simply move the problem elsewhere. The best results to date have been from controlled hunting. Since Princeton began its deer management program through organized bow hunting, the number of car accidents involving deer has decreased by more than half.
If elected to West Windsor Council, I will begin a conversation on how to humanely and efficiently address the deer overpopulation. I hope voters give me and my running mates Andrea Mandel and Sonia Gawas that opportunity on Nov. 5.
Stevens is a candidate running for a seat on West Windsor Council.