SADDLE RIVER - Animal experts in one Bergen County town say hunting is needed to cull a deer population that has reached "critical proportion."
Animal control officers in Saddle River say there are at least 300 deer roaming the borough. Animal control officer Carol Tyler says the population has increased recently because people are giving the deer food or leaving out feeders.
"You don't see deer walking around with one baby anymore," she says. "You see them walking around with two or three."
Saddle River residents say the population has become troublesome. The deer are going onto people's properties and destroying the landscape, and they are going out onto roads and in front of cars.
"Two years ago, two deer actually hit the buses for the children in the morning," says Yvonne McCort, who works at Saddle River Day School. "We saw the damage it did to the bus, and you worry about the children."
Several Saddle River officials say they can't sterilize the deer because it costs too much and is not effective. They can't move them out of the borough because no one wants them.
Some believe hunting is the only option, and that option is currently banned in Saddle River. Officials have proposed allowing hunting in the borough. If approved, it would most likely be bow-hunting since that would be the safest for the general public, according to officials.
"By culling the unhealthy numbers, it will cause more healthy numbers for the animals themselves," says Tyler. "We won't have an overpopulation, the food source will be more realistic and they'll survive through the winter better."
State wildlife officials are expected to give a public presentation this October about the deer population and hunting proposal. If approved, the earliest a deer hunt would be allowed would be this winter.