SHORT HILLS - A group of scientists wants to reintroduce cougars into New Jersey’s ecosystem in an attempt to lower the deer population.
A recent study published in the “Society of Conservation Biology” found that bringing back wild cougars to the Eastern United States could save human lives by thinning the deer population. According to the study, more than 1 million vehicle crashes happen each year involving deer.
However, some experts say that introducing cougars back into New Jersey could be dangerous.
"That means the cougars are going to have to move in where the deer are, which is in suburbia,” says Tedor Whitman, of the Cora Hartshorn Arboretum in Short Hills. “I’m suspecting there are going to be some people not thrilled with the fact there's is a 100-pound big cat living wild right in their backyard."
Whitman says that although cougars rarely harm humans, they could attack family pets. He also says that a virtual army of cougars will be needed to help reduce the deer population.
“Unless you bring in literally thousands of cats and train them to eat only [female] deer…then this is not going to work,” he says.
According to the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, bobcats and cougars were once widespread throughout New Jersey, but are not listed as an endangered species.