To The Editor:
Re: John Burton’s article ***ITALSSycamore Avenue Resident Organizes Protest**ENDTALS
I took special note of this article as I walk my dog in a county park each morning and have noticed the recent appearance of the warning placards that the park will be closed for bow and arrow deer hunting soon. Before writing this letter, I Googled “accidental hunting deaths in U.S.” The following excerpt is from a 2009 article, ***ITALSHunting Deaths a Challenge to Prosecutors**ENDTALS.
**ITALSIn 2003, an Ohio man who killed his 13-year-old son with an arrow pleaded guilty to negligent homicide and was sentenced to six months in jail. Alan Foster, of Middletown, (Ohio) shot at what he thought was a deer, hitting son Jason in the chest.***ENDTALS
I don’t think anyone, including a responsible hunter, would say that there is a hundred percent guarantee of safety while hunting. Public officials owe any county resident like Ms. Lichtig who raise safety concerns their full understanding and support. There is another issue we should be looking at in addition to safety. On the county website for deer hunting, the county presents deer hunting in our parks as a business activity. This excerpt is from the county publication (it appears in bold type) explaining how to apply for a hunting permit: ***ITALSHunting on Park System property has been approved as a deer management tool, not as a recreational activity.***ENDTALS
Really? If we are to believe that hunting in our parks is a deer management tool and not recreation, then our focus should be on the money as well as public safety. The county should treat outsourced deer management like any other outsourcing deal and go for maximum cost benefit to taxpayers, especially if the non-hunting public who also use the parks – the walkers, runners, photographers and others – have to be inconvenienced and/or put to avoidable lethal risk during hunting season in order for the county to achieve their park management business goals. And these goals need some additional thought. Another Google search (value of a deer carcass) turned up a chart by a venison supply dealer showing a retail value (based on his survey of five venison meat outlets on the web) of a fully dressed and butchered wild deer sold as venison to be north of $500 per 100 pounds of animal ($582.18 to be exact) vs. the average price of $10.98 per pound of farm raised venison ($1098 per 100 lb. animal) I was surprised to learn of the low cost that one must pay for the exclusive privilege to hunt so close to home for such a valuable commodity. For the required NJ state license, the cost is $3`1.50 and for the county permit, $20. $51.50 all in. Why so cheap if this is supposed to be business? By comparison, the cost to play a round of golf in a county park is at least $59 –$40 for the annual resident card and $19-$36 for greens fees per round, depending on the course. According to the deer hunt annual report: “The $20 application processing fee yielded $16,100 collected between September 2010 and February 2011 that was deposited in the Park System Trust Account to offset program expenses.” Four hundred eight deer were reported harvested in exchange for that $16,100 revenue. I suggest the county raise the wholesale price of our deer from $33.54 ($16,100 divided by 480) to at least half average retail value. That’s still a good return on investment to the hunters (assuming that they, too, are treating this as a business and not recreation.) This would be a much better return to taxpayers on the value of our deer and perhaps be viewed as just compensation to the thousands of county residents for the lost use of our public grounds while 805 (2010/2011 season) hunters had exclusive and privileged access to our public parks. For the 480 units harvested as part of the 2010/2011 hunt the realized value to the taxpayers for the deer management tool should be closer to half of the $240,000 to $527,040 retail commodity value discussed above as opposed to the paltry $16,100 raised in the sale of 805 permits according to the Annual Report for the 2010/2011 deer hunting season. If the hunting community balks at paying market prices for our assets, then perhaps management of the “deer management tool” should be put out for bid. In this economy, a lot of folks might be interested in a county concession that might be worth upwards of a half a million per year.