FAQ For Deer Management

Deer Management at Butler Tract

Updated Sept. 11, 2020

From October 1, 2020 to February 20, 2021, Princeton University is allowing a select group of bow hunters already working with the Municipality of Princeton limited access to the Butler Tract site to hunt deer during bow hunting season. The following are answers to the most frequently asked questions about this deer management effort. If your question is not answered here, please contact Jamie McQuaid at jmcquaid@princeton.edu or 609-258-5106.

Why does the Municipality of Princeton ask the University to allow organized bow hunting on Butler Tract?

Since 2001, the Municipality of Princeton has conducted a Community Based Deer Management Plan (CBDMP) approved by the New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife in order to control the high number of deer in the Princeton area. The plan includes organized hunting on public lands. The Princeton Health Department continues to receive complaints from residents who live near the Butler Tract about deer proliferation in the Riverside neighborhood. The municipal health officer and the animal control officer investigated these complaints and observed that the area around and including the Butler Tract continue to have an above-average number of deer compared with other areas of Princeton. The deer herd in the area is likely to grow tremendously if conditions remain unchanged.

Due to the lack of public property around the area, the Municipal health officer and animal control officer asked the University, as owner of the Butler Tract property, to consider allowing bow hunting on the Butler Tract in an effort to reduce the deer population.

Why cull the deer population?

The main reasons for managing the deer population relate to public health and safety.

  • The New Jersey Department of Health anticipates a higher number of cases of Lyme Disease statewide. Reducing the deer population is a mitigation strategy for reducing the number of cases of Lyme Disease.
  • Since the town began its deer management program through hunting, the number of car accidents involving deer has decreased by more than half.

Is there an effective non-lethal method of controlling the deer population?

The town has conducted various forms of birth control strategies in the past with limited results. Controlled hunting has been much more effective.

Who are the bow hunters that the University has permitted to hunt on Butler Tract?

The University is allowing three hunters associated with Suburban Deer Management to hunt on the Butler Tract. This same group has been hunting as part of the town’s deer management program for several years, as well as many other public and private properties in Mercer County and other counties.

How do the select hunters operate?

Only one hunter will be on site at any time. He will hunt from an elevated tree stand in a wooded portion of the property, at least 20 yards away from any trail, street or walkway. Hunters may only use bows and may only shoot at deer that are just below them. They are not allowed to shoot across fields. Deer are covered and removed after dark.

How can I be confident that hunters will not pose a threat to people or pets?

The hunters monitor the area for a several weeks before hunting and are familiar with the peak times and sections of Butler where children, adults, and pets walk and play. The hunters are in an elevated tree stand in a wooded area at least 20 yards away from walkways and pathways. 

These hunters have been culling deer from public parks and private properties in Princeton and throughout Mercer County for many years, including Butler Tract the previous two years. It is rare that anyone even notices them, and there have not been any incidents that have endangered people or pets while the hunters were present.

Princeton University Office of Environmental Health and Safety and Department of Public Safety have interviewed the hunters and reviewed and approved of their plans.

Will the hunters use firearms?

No. The hunters are only permitted to hunt with bows.

May any bow hunter hunt on the Butler Tract?

No. Only the three hunters permitted by the University are allowed to hunt on this property. All three are part of the team that has been bow hunting for the Municipality.

When will the select hunters begin and end?

The hunters will begin bow hunting on or around October 1, 2020 and finish before February 20, 2021.

When are the select hunters allowed to hunt?

The select hunters are permitted to hunt on weekdays when school is in session beginning no earlier than 9 a.m. and ending one half-hour after sunset. On weekends, hunting is allowed one half-hour before sunrise and ending one half-hour after sunset.

How long will the University allow these hunters to bow hunt on Butler Tract? 

The hunters will continue hunting until February 20, 2021.

What do the hunters do with the deer once removed from the site? 

Through Hunters Helping the Hungry, hunters donate the deer meat to local food banks.

Whom should I contact if I still have questions?

Please contact Jamie McQuaid, assistant director of occupational safety at the Princeton University Office of Environmental Health and Safety, at jmcquaid@princeton.edu or 609-258-5106. Alternatively, contact Kristin Appelget, Princeton University Director of Community and Regional Affairs, at appelget@princeton.edu or 609-258-3018.