Deer damage management program

Deer damage management program

2017/18 Site-Specific Deer Damage Management Plan for Rutgers Ecological Preserve


            There is an over population of White Tail Deer occupying the Rutgers Ecological Preserve (RUEP) located on the Livingston Campus of Rutgers University. The unchecked populations of deer can cause damage to the plant life and causing a danger to vehicles traveling on the perimeter roads.  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 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 over several years before we may be able to discern a significant response in the vegetation. A secondary goal is to reduce the damage to landscape plantings on Livingston Campus, as well as neighboring properties. A shorter term goal is to reduce deer-vehicle collisions on Livingston Campus.


Deer Reduction Goal:

The goal in 2017/2018 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 November 25, 2017-February 18, 2018.



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,  appproximately 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 only from November 25, 2017 to February 18, 2018.  This will result in a needed reduction in the population of deer and thereby reduce the ecological damage.


Between November 25, 2017 and February 18, 2018, the specified management program zones will be closed to public access. 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:

Bow hunters will be given permission to hunt under the supervision and direction of Mel Henninger and John Messeroll, 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.  To contact Dr. Henninger call 609 203 4184.


Further Information:

For further information about the RU Ecological Preserve Deer Damage Management Plan go to RUEP Deer Damage Management Plan FAQ 2015


Hunting Zone Map:
Click Here for 2016/17 Hunting Zones


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