Mercer County will begin a special program to manage the deer population starting in January. A professional deer culling firm will hunt deer through March 31 at Baldpate Mountain and select regions of Mercer Meadows in Hopewell Township using crossbows and rifles. The goals of the program to thin the deer population are to protect forests and reduce the number of car crashes involving deer.
Beginning in January, the areas will allow for bow culling seven days a week, through 9 p.m. each day until March 31, but will remain open to the public during this period. Park users are advised to remain on trails and wear bright-colored clothing. All culling activity will take place from an elevated tree stand and a 75-foot safety buffer is in place on either side of all County-recognized trails.
At Mercer Meadows, only the Curlis Woods region and the Ecological District are included in the permit issued by the state. The Curlis Woods region will be closed to the public for shotgun culling on Wednesday, January 19 through Friday, January 21; Wednesday, January 26 through Friday, January 28; Thursday, March 3 through Friday, March 4; Thursday, March 10 through Friday, March 11, and on Saturdays, March 5 and 12, from sunset to 9 p.m.
At Baldpate Mountain, including Belle Mountain and Fiddler’s Creek Preserve, the state permit allows for extended evening deer culling from sunset through 9 p.m. from February 1 through February 18, when the state hunting season ends. Beginning on Monday, February 21, bow culling may take place Mondays through Fridays, from sunrise to 9 p.m. until March 31. Shotgun culling may take place beginning on Monday, February 21 through March 31, seven days a week from sunset to 9 p.m. when the park is closed to the public. Baldpate Mountain, Belle Mountain, and Fiddler’s Creek Preserve will be closed to the public for shotgun culling on Thursday, March 17 through Friday, March 18; Thursday, March 24 through Friday, March 25; and Saturday, March 19 and 26, from sunset to 9 p.m.
The dates of the special state-approved community deer management permit program don’t include closures that are part of the Mercer County Park Commission’s existing deer management program. in the 2019-20 deer culling season, the county program 281 deer were killed. In the 2020-21 season, 361 deer were killed as part of the county program.