SADDLE RIVER, N.J. — The Borough Council listened to resident after resident Monday night, each weighing in on last week’s vote to both hunt - and not hunt - deer in the borough.
Like the vote itself, comments were split down the middle.
“I’d like to hear what your interpretation is of the residents’ vote,” resident Amy Atkinson asked the council.
Mayor Al Kurpis replied the governing body hadn’t yet convened to discuss the results.
But Council Member Paul Schulstad read a personal statement that the mayor said seemed to reflect the sentiments of the council.
Schulstad called the two questions on the ballot “admirable examples of our democratic process.”
The first asked if residents want to manage the deer population using only non-lethal methods. The vote was 715 to 457 in favor.
The second question asked if residents wanted to use a lethal method as one of multiple ways to manage deer. That vote was 582 to 544 in favor.
“Our referendum was conducted in a very civil fashion and the referendum result was also clear,” Schulstad said.
“Saddle River residents want fewer deer within the borough,” he added, “and for that to be accomplished using non-lethal methods.”
A sense of urgency around the issue grew when he gave the monthly wildlife committee report. It revealed two single-car accidents on Route 17 involving deer.
“We’re playing Russian roulette on Route 17,” Schulstad said. “It’s just a matter of time before there’s a serious car accident involving serious injuries and fatalities. But that is for all deer, not just Saddle River’s. We all have part of that road.”
Also, he reported, a Saddle River police car was totaled in an accident with a deer.
The net cost to the borough for that accident includes $50,000 for a new police car, pointed out Council Member Corinne Kerner, who heads the finance committee.
Then there’s the risk of a police officer getting hurt, she added.
The council is expected to discuss or vote on the matter at its Dec. 19 meeting.
In the meantime, residents' differing opinions continue to fly.
Patty Nazzaro is in favor of culling 10 percent of the borough’s 400 deer on one weekend hunt and then moving to non-lethal methods.
Further, she suggested deer meat can be taken to food banks, so every part of them would be utilized.
On the other hand, resident Samantha Scarlette said she has no problem with the deer.
“I think they’re beautiful creatures,” she said. “Killing them is like a genocide against the deer.”