January 20, 2020

New Jersey: Beaver Management Bill Awaiting Governor’s Decision

Contact: Senior Director, Northeastern States and States Program Administrator Brent Miller

On January 13, AB 2731, a bill to remove the statutory limits on the number of beaver permits that can be issued by the New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife became eligible for consideration by the Governor. The bill received strong bipartisan votes in both the Assembly (61-9) and the Senate (29-4) and is sponsored and co-sponsored by several leaders and members of the New Jersey Angling and Hunting Conservation Caucus including Co-Chairs Assemblyman Parker Space, and Senators Stephen Sweeney and Steven Oroho.

The current limits on beaver take were first set in statute in 1954 at a cap of 100 permits with a season bag limit of 1 beaver per permit. That number was increased to 200 permits for the year 2000 season as a result of population expansion and increased nuisance complaints and ecological damage due to flooding resulting from the expanding population. In 2015/2016 the population was estimated at 7,500 beavers. As the population has expanded it has pushed beavers into marginal habitat and has increased the nuisance complaints from landowners and municipalities that are now dealing with flooding issues (218 nuisance complaints in 2017 alone). 

AB 2731 would return this critical fish and wildlife management decision to the New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife, which is best equipped to guide beaver management with sound, biological principles, instead of arbitrarily proscribed statutory allowances. 

Studies conducted at both the state and federal level have found that the number of hunters and trappers have been on a generally declining trend over the past several decades. To increase recruitment, retention, and reactivation (R3) of hunters and trappers, which initiative do you think would have the greatest impact?

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