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Township To Seek Somerset County Permission To Allow Deer Hunting On Golf Courses

Members of the township’s Open Space Advisory Committee endorsed a plan to ask Somerset County for permission to allow hunting on at least one of its golf courses located in Franklin.


Township officials will ask the Somerset County Parks Commission for permission to allow hunting on at least one of the county owned golf courses located in Franklin.

Township Manager Robert Vornlocker and Tara Kenyon, the township’s open space consultant, will make the request after the idea received the endorsement of the Open Space Advisory Committee at its April 17 meeting.

The idea came up during a discussion of the township’s deer management plan. The committee decided to talk about the plan now at its January meeting.

A plan has to be put in place by May so that signage can be created and placed for the start of the hunting season, which begins in September.

There are two county owned golf courses in Franklin: Spooky Brook and Quailbrook. The county usually closes the courses in the winter, which is when deer season falls.

The committee has struggled with ways to contain the growing deer herd in the township. A plan instituted several years ago to limit public access to some trails in favor of hunters, to give the hunters more time to cull the herd, met with great resistance by hikers and birders, resulting in the plan being scrapped after one year.

The idea for approaching the county for permission to hunt on its golf courses was broached by Vornlocker.

“You could look at Spooky Brook and Quailbrook in particular because usually they leave one golf course open for the winter,” Vornlocker said. “Even if it was just Quailbrook, it would give us the opportunity to get those deer … I think that that’s something that we need to do.”

Bob Puskas, the Agricultural Advisory Committee’s liaison to the committee, said he’s spoken to hunters in the DeMott Lane area, who have told him most of the deer they cull come from the Quailbrook golf course area.

Puskas also suggested hunting in Middlebush Park, on Demott, during January.

“I don’t see why we couldn’t get a couple proficient bow hunters,” he said. “I don’t think the park is used that much in January. Have it closed for a week or 10 days, whatever the number might be.”

Vornlocker partly agreed with him.

“I think that if you want to start small, the easiest piece of property is Quailbrook Golf Course because it’s contained,” he said. “Middlebush Park is one of those places where anybody can just wander in from any direction.”

“But the golf course, when it’s closed it’s closed, and most of the residential areas around it have fencing, and it’s contained,” Vornlocker said. “It affords an opportunity that we haven’t really taken advantage of, in that you have a large concentration of deer in an open area that has no public coming into the property when the golf course is closed and I think it’s worth pursuing.”

“I can’t image that there’s not a golf course in this stare that doesn’t allow hunters on it in the off-season,” Vornlocker said. “I wouldn’t be surprised if the owners of Bunker Hill Golf Course, a private golf course, didn’t have a group of people that they know and let them onto the golf course to hunt. It’s the perfect environment for a deer, therefore it’s the perfect environment for a deer hunter.”

Earlier in the meeting, Kenyon told the committee that although all hunters’ summary sheets had not yet been submitted, about half had and they show that 95 deer were culled during the last hunting season.

She said that accidents with automobiles killed another 160 deer in 2017.

Kenyon also said that researchers from Rutgers will conduct a GIS survey of deer in the township in th efall.

The program would be done “so we can kind of better target our hunting sites and hours, or our hunting program in some way,” she said.

“They use satellite imagery,” she said. “They do have a variety of data that most municipalities or counties may not have to see where the deer are, when they’re active. It’s like a deer inventory so we can target our program a little better.”

 

 

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