Proposed deer hunt draws opposition

| 21 Feb 2012 | 10:52

    SPARTA-The Lake Mohawk Country Club has insisted that it will do its "homework" before deciding how to scale down the deer population within its borders, but the private Sparta residential community may be faced with a much more difficult assignment than it had anticipated. Apparently, not all Lake Mohawk residents are in step with a proposed plan by the Lake Mohawk Board of Trustees to implement a bow-and-arrow hunt to reduce the size of, what it considers, an exploding and dangerous deer population. "No one is hunting on my property," said Lake Mohawk resident Rob Comiskey, who recently professed his opposition to a hunt before the Sparta Township Council. "I'll do everything within my power. If it requires a protest or a demonstration of some sort n trust me n I won't hesitate one second about doing it. I'm not going to take this lying down." But, lying down to stop a deer hunter in his or her tracks may not be entirely out of the question, either. Last year, animal rights groups went to great measures n although unsuccessful n to prevent a bear hunt in Sussex County. ganizations, including BEAR (Bear Education And Resource), of which Comiskey is a member, were highly visible in their efforts. Comiskey said he already plans to speak with the New Jersey Animal Rights Alliance for assistance. "We'll have to deal with it," said Ernest Hofer, Lake Mohawk board of trustee president. "That's one of the issues we need to prepare for. We have a certain character and culture here (Lake Mohawk) we don't want to tarnish." Hofer said the deer population in Lake Mohawk has increased by up to seven times more than the recommended density for maintaining a balanced ecosystem. He said that although the board has not officially taken a stance on the matter, safety concerns including the spread of Lyme disease, an increase in deer-related motor vehicle accidents and the destruction of property are some of the reasons the board will continue to investigate a hunt. "This is a bogus issue," said Comiskey, a former Union County resident. "We don't have herds of deer running around the streets. I have a deep regard for wildlife. I'm opposed to the hunting or trapping of any animals. It's a barbaric, cruel thing to do." Hofer said at least four sites in Lake Mohawk have been determined to be safe for bow-and-arrow deer harvesting without disruption to the daily lives of community residents. "I don't want it in my backyard," said Jerome Mandel, who moved to Lake Mohawk from Jersey City five years ago. "I don't want it around my area and a lot of my neighbors don't want it around their area. It's going to cause friction between neighbors. You may be in favor of it. I may be against it." The board of trustees, Hofer said, is considering additional sites that can safely and discreetly be used for harvesting deer. Hofer said they would be determined by acreage of the site, topography and vegetative cover. To harvest deer within 450 feet of a home, written permission from the homeowner would be needed. "Four-hundred-and-fifty yards from each other's homes?" said Mandel. "Who's going to be out there measuring and watching? What happens when a dear gets hurt and it goes onto my property and I don't want you to hunt that deer?" Hofer said the board plans to meet again, Dec. 6, and will continue to discuss the potential hunt before making any formal presentation before the town council. "The board position is that we're responding to the needs of the residents," said Hofer. "But, this is not a done deal. We're taking a very cautious approach." Sparta mayor Scott Seelagy said any deer hunt in Lake Mohawk would need the township's consultation. "They're (Lake Mohawk Country Club) going to have to come to us," he said. "We don't even have the parameters or when they want to do it."