Bow hunting, pesticides and fencing are some of the ways North Caldwell is considering curbing the borough’s deer population. But what will actually work?
That’s the $64 million question faced by the three-square-mile suburb’s governing body.
At Tuesday night's council meeting, Borough Engineer and Department of Public Works Director Frank Zichelli suggested the town ask residents what they are doing to keep deer off their properties in a survey that will be mailed to all households later this year.
The survey’s main goal would be to count the number of confirmed cases of Lyme Disease—a number the mayor and council feel they need in order to assess what could be a public health crisis.
A survey conducted last year by a Deer Task Force made up of residents confirmed close to 60 cases of Lyme Disease in the borough which has just over 6,000 residents. But Laura Ostheimer, Chairperson of the task force, and others who have contracted the tick-borne illness believe the number is much greater.
The borough is looking to partner with the publisher of a North Caldwell publication to include the survey in an upcoming issue.
Meanwhile, the council is taking several measures to attempt to reduce the deer population. The council will introduce an ordinance to support resuming the county’s deer culling at Hilltop Reservation. Essex County officials announced earlier this year that the population has been reduced sufficiently in the reservation and that there would be no culling in the immediate future.
The possibility of spraying town fields with tick-controlling pesticides and fencing the property around the K-3 Grandview Elementary School were also floated Tuesday.
Hamilton Drive East resident Darren Silverstein said he supported the idea of fencing the school.
“We should be protecting the kids at all costs,” said Silverstein, a member of the Deer Task Force.
Bow hunting, which has been conducted in nearby Essex Fells, is another option.
North Caldwell Police Chief Mark Deuer said hunters are hired by the police to perform the strictly-regulated bow hunt for free.
“There will be no trouble getting volunteers [to hunt],” Deuer said.