Deer damage management program

Deer damage management program

2018/19 Site-Specific Deer Damage Management Plan for Rutgers Ecological Preserve


            There is an over population of White Tail Deer across central New Jersey, as well as in the Rutgers Ecological Preserve (RUEP) located on the Livingston Campus of Rutgers University.  Unchecked populations of deer can cause damage to the plant life and causing a danger to vehicles traveling on the perimeter roads.  In an attempt to lower the population of deer, a deer management program was instituted in the Fall of 2012. This management plan is modeled after the successful deer damage management plan employed on other New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station (NJAES) lands. The plan has been reviewed and approved by the members of a Deer Management Advisory Committee which includes participation from RU Police Department, Office of Risk Management, and Facilities Management, as well as by the RU EcoPreserve Advisory Committee and the Dean of the School of Environmental and Biological Sciences. Conservation officers of the New Jersey Division of Fish & Wildlife also monitor the conduct of the hunt to ensure that all relevant NJ hunting regulations are followed.

Management Goal:

The long term goal is to reduce the high level of deer browsing pressure such that we see a significant increase in the amount and diversity of native understory vegetation.  This will require sustained management every year. Initial indications from the 5+ years of management are that the vegetation community in the EcoPreserve is responding positively. Secondary goals are to reduce the damage to landscape plantings on Livingston Campus, as well as neighboring properties and to reduce deer-vehicle collisions on Livingston Campus.

Deer Reduction Goal:

The goal in 2018/2019 will be to remove at least 30 antlerless deer, mostly mature does, which is consistent with recommendations in the Fish & Wildlife Landowner Guide.  As the game regulations allow for the harvesting of unlimited does, one per day during the regular archery season, this goal should be met.  The managed hunting program for this year will be open only from September 29, 2018 to February 16, 2019.


The EcoPreserve will not be open to general recreational hunting. Access will be restricted to a small number of state-licensed, vetted and permitted bow hunters who will enter through Rutgers property at a location designated by the university.  This deer population reduction program will rely on ‘in-season’ bow hunting only.  This includes long, recurve, compound, and crossbow.  The erection of temporary elevated tree stands and the use of bait will be permitted.  With bow hunting most shots will be from a tree stand angling towards the ground.  This method of hunting is extremely safe with regard to missed shots or unwanted deflections.

During this program, only a restricted area within the EcoPreserve will be opened for hunting.  Using the Township of Piscataway more restrictive regulations of 500 ft buffer zones around private parcels. In Edison and Highland Park a 150 ft buffer is used. 150 ft buffer is used from marked recreational trails and roads,  approximately 148 acres will be open to bow hunting. This land is located within DMZ 36 of the NJDFW regulations (

The focus of this controlled hunting program is on the removal of mature does.   The NJDFW allows the taking of an unlimited numbers of does (one per day) throughout the archery season, which for this hunt will be open from December 15, 2018 to January21, 2019 in the various designated hunting zones within the EcoPreserve and from September 29, 2018 to February 16, 2019(in Zone 3 (please see map of Hunting Zones below).  This will result in a needed reduction in the population of deer and thereby reduce the ecological damage.

Between September 29, 2018 to February 16, 2019, the specified management program zones will be closed to public access. Please see map below. The remainder of the EcoPreserve will be open.  During this period, we request that visitors to the EcoPreserve stay on marked trails and keep pets leashed.  Signs will be posted at the RUEP trailheads and other locations within the RUEP informing the public that a deer management program is in progress.

Hunter Selection:

Hunter Selection:

Bow hunters will be given permission to hunt under the supervision and direction of Mel Henninger and Stanley Obryk, who coordinate the NJAES deer management program. Each hunter will be required to shoot their bow to demonstrate their proficiency and safety. Dr. Henninger will maintain a list of the experienced bow hunters that have permission to hunt, and they will be the only individuals permitted to hunt this land. You can contact Dr. Henninger by email: to get on the waiting list. Rutgers employees and neighbors of the preserve will be given priority.

Further Information:

For further information about the RU Ecological Preserve Deer Damage Management Plan go to RUEP Deer Damage Management Plan FAQ

To contact Dr. Richard Lathrop, EcoPreserve Faculty Director at 848 932 1580 or email

Hunting Zone Map:
Click Here for 2018/19 Hunting Zones