Contact: Nick Lewis, Mid-Atlantic States Coordinator
Why it Matters: Legislatively mandating wildlife management decisions, thereby circumventing state fish and wildlife agency authority, sets a dangerous precedent. Our nation’s state fish and wildlife agencies have successfully and sustainably managed fish and wildlife populations and healthy ecosystems for decades, many for more than a century, and have recovered many previously imperiled species to the burgeoning populations we see today. These agencies find success because they utilize the best biological and sociological data available to determine what regulations and conservation efforts are appropriate.
On June 14, the New Jersey Assembly Agriculture Committee amended and favorably reported Assembly Bill 1365 (A-1365) – legislation that would ban hunting contests for almost all forms of wildlife within the state. While the bill as introduced would have banned all hunting contests, a last-minute amendment was provided to remove white-tailed deer from the prohibition and allow hunting contests pertaining to permitted dog training and field trials.
Any such contest that is presently conducted is done in compliance with the laws and regulations enforced by the Division of Fish and Wildlife (DFW). These competitive events foster a heightened level of comradery and affability among the participants and offer the ability to challenge one another in a regulated environment, spurring a determination that often leads to lifetime memories and newly established relationships.
This latest piece of legislation is just one of several that the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) is opposing in the Northeast, with similar efforts being seen throughout the region. Despite efforts by anti-sportsmen to ban hunting tournaments, the legislation does not prevent sportsmen and women from taking the same legal amount of game in a prize-free way. Hunting contest bans are often not motivated toward saving wildlife, but rather intended to restrict access and opportunities for sportsmen and women, thereby reducing the DFW’s revenue generated through the “user pays — public benefits” structure known as the American System of Conservation Funding.
CSF submitted written opposition testimony to the Committee in advance of its hearing, working with Assemblyman Parker Space – Co-Chair of the New Jersey Legislative Angling and Hunting Conservation Caucus and member of the Assembly Agriculture Committee – toward opposing this bill. Additionally, CSF provided oral testimony during the hearing. CSF will continue to provide updates as they are made available.
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?