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MIDDLETOWN — The Monmouth County Board of Recreation Commissioners Monday authorized its second deer hunt to be held in several county parks this year and agreed to expand its deer management program to three new park locations.

Seven residents made one final plea to stop the hunt, which will begin in the fall, before the commissioners voted unanimously to approve it.

Linda Faraci of Wall said she believes the county park system hadn't proven its case, saying there was insufficient data to support its claim that the deer are overpopulated.

Her friend, Janne Darata of Manasquan, added that there are not enough park rangers to ensure the safety of all park users and opposed the park system's decision to close off hunting grounds to regular park users while hunters are allowed in the woods.

"As a Monmouth County taxpayer, I'm outraged," Darata said. "How dare you limit parks to a minority group of hunters?"

Doris Lin, founder of Save Monmouth County Parks, an organization made up of a few dozen animal rights activists, park users and homeowners whose properties border county parks, said she was disturbed to learn that there was a reported injury not mentioned in the county's Deer Management Program's annual report for the initial 2004-2005 hunting season.

Laura Kirkpatrick, a spokeswoman for the park system, said Tuesday that she was unaware of the incident when asked by the Asbury Park Press last month if there were any reported injuries. She said she learned the details of the reported incident about a month later.

Injury not verified

Faith Hahn, supervising planner for the county park system, said after Monday's meeting that the park system could not verify the injury. She said Brett Search of Upper Freehold mentioned in passing that his cousin, a hunter, was hit by pellets in December. The park system tried to interview the cousin, whose name she did not know, but couldn't reach him.

Hahn said she didn't know where the purported shooting took place, and there was no police or hospital report of such an injury.

"We don't believe the story is credible," she said, adding that the Search family sold land to the county to be added to Crosswicks Creek Park in Upper Freehold and lost its exclusive hunting privileges there when the county opened the area as part of its hunting program.

Search was not available for comment.

Other reported incidents include rule infractions such as hunting in a closed area and a hunter trespassing on private property, as well as failure to use a tree stand, remove a tree stand and display parking permits.

Only one resident spoke in favor of the hunting during the public meeting.

"It's a good idea what you're doing with the deer hunt," George Putykewycz of Middletown said.

Choppers used for counts

Before the vote, Hahn explained to the board that the park system has observed extensive ecological damage at the county parks. It also has attempted to count the deer and even employed the use of a helicopter to track the roaming creatures over the past three years.

"One thing we know for sure is there's more (deer) than the land can support based on the damage we're seeing," she said.

Some residents said they believed the hunt is cruel and inhumane and that the county should explore nonlethal methods to control the deer population. County officials have said they are not permitted to use reproductive controls or trap and transfer techniques, and repellents have been deemed ineffective.

Park officials have said they have applied for acceptance into trial programs that are testing contraceptives, but they were rejected.

The board will allow bow hunting only at three new places: Howell Park Golf Course, Tatum Park in Middletown and an additional section of Shark River Park, east of Remsen Mill Road, in Neptune and Wall.

Nina Rizzo: (732) 308-7755 or [email protected]

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I sprained my ankle while Mountain Biking in Hartshorne Woods last year.Should mountain biking be banned. I'm sure numerous hikers are injured also. If i am hunting and twist my ankle is that a hunting accident??
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