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Feb 25

Addressing NJ's Deer Overpopulation Problem

Posted on February 25, 2021 at 4:14 PM by Legislative Staff

On Monday, February 23, the Assembly Agriculture Committee met to discuss the overpopulation crisis of white-tailed deer in New Jersey. The Committee had several experts speak on the matter including Professor Jay Kelly from Raritan Valley Community College, who has been conducting a research study since 2013 on the deer population in the Garden State. He mentioned that the issue began with the lack of the deer’s natural predators, wolves, cougars, and bears. The lack of natural predators in New Jersey, has led to deer overpopulation.  
The Professor noted that a healthy deer population per square mile ratio is about 10 deer per mile. Currently, in many parts of the state, people are seeing 100 or more deer per square mile. The two largest issues that New Jersey is facing with deer overpopulation are the destruction of and New Jersey ‘s forests and farmer’s crops.

To address the crisis of the deer overpopulation, a number of solutions were presented:

  • Expanding hunting season;
  • Permitting the number of deer tags for hunters to be increased;
  • Allowing for more degradation permits for farmers that allow hunters to hunt deer outside of the normal hunting season on farmland and other assessed cultivated fields; and,
  •  implementing deer fencing.

During their testimony, Dr. Ernest Beier noted that the two most effective strategies are expanding the number of tags that hunters can have per hunting season and the implementation of deer fencing. They also suggested that the two most effective strategies to address the deer overpopulation crisis are the implementation of degradation permits on permitted farmland and the effectiveness of deer fencing.

The Committee concluded with stating that these are all proven strategies that will prevent the deer overpopulation crisis from continuing, and they look forward to more discussions on productive ways to address the problem.

Contact: Andrew LaFevre, Legislative Analyst,, 609-695-3481 ext. 116