Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Mark Johnson--Princeton's Animal Control Officer No More

Mark Johnson, who served as Princeton's animal control officer for more than twenty years, was recently offered a separation agreement by the municipality. Animal control services have been outsourced to Montgomery. The reason for the separation, according to articles at, has nothing to do with his field work but instead with record keeping and his handling of rabies vaccines supplied by the state.

Other decisions about his employment remain shrouded in mystery, as far as I know. He was shifted from the health department to the police department a couple years ago for no clear reason, and within the last year or so I read that he was no longer allowed to make house calls to assist homeowners with animal control issues.

His house calls were a great service. My interactions with Mark were always positive. He helped us get raccoons out of the historic Veblen House attic, and his policy on keeping chickens in the backyard was a pragmatic one, allowing chickens (no roosters) as long as bordering neighbors approve. He was my go-to person for information on coyotes and other wildlife in Princeton. He also had to endure criticism coming from those who oppose Princeton's deer policy--a policy that, given that we long ago eliminated the natural predators necessary to control deer population, has greatly benefitted Princeton's forests, dramatically reduced car accidents, and insured a better balance between deer numbers and available habitat. His was not an easy job.

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