September 8, 2016

New Jersey: Judge Strikes down Trophy Importation Ban

On August 29, U.S. federal court Judge Freda Wolfson ruled in favor of sportsmen and women by prohibiting the state of New Jersey from enforcing Senate Bills 977 and 978. These anti-sportsmen bills would have banned New Jersey hunters from importing, exporting, and possessing the African “Big Four” (elephant, leopard, lion, and rhinoceros) hunting trophies in the state, activities that are otherwise permitted by federal law.

The suit was filed by Conservation Force, the Garden State Taxidermist Association, a New Jersey taxidermist, and five New Jersey hunters. John J. Jackson, III, President of Conservation Force commented, “This case should be a lesson for other states considering similar laws. The plaintiffs fully support prohibitions against illegally trafficked wildlife. But we will fight any law banning legal hunting trophies. As the governments of Namibia, South Africa, Zambia, and Zimbabwe will tell you, licensed, regulated hunting is essential to the conservation programs in those countries. And it must be protected.”

The United States is fortunate to have the guiding principles of the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation to protect and promote the sustainable use of our fish and wildlife resources. The application of these principles is made possible through the American System of Conservation Funding, a “user pays – public benefits” program, which provides the capital to implement professional, science-based fish and wildlife management throughout the nation. In other parts of the world, including Africa, regulated trophy hunting is the primary driver for conservation funding, wildlife management and anti-poaching efforts. The revenue from sport hunting also provides the primary means of livelihood for otherwise impoverished peoples, allowing them to provide for themselves, their families and their communities. SB 977 and SB 978 would have deprived African nations of critical conservation resources by unnecessarily restricting the ability of American citizens to participate in trophy hunting.

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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