October 20, 2016

New Jersey: Will Scientific Management or Emotion Rule the Day?

Recently, several anti-sportsmen and anti-scientific management legislative proposals have advanced in the New Jersey Legislature. The bills and resolutions focus on two main areas that have been at the center of public controversy in the Garden State for decades; bear hunting and trapping.

Assembly Bill 3527 (companion bill to Senate Bill 2141) would statutorily remove black bears from the list of game species in New Jersey, eliminating the option for the New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife to manage the population through hunting, as they have been doing since 2010 when Governor Christie reinstated the bear hunt. The Assembly version was reported out of the Assembly Environment and Solid Waste Committee on October 13 by a vote of 5-1 and may come up for a vote in the full Assembly before the end of the legislative session.

Similarly, an Assembly Resolution (AR 127) stating the chamber’s opposition to expanded bear hunting opportunities in the state, and requesting the hunt be limited to the previous six-day season in December, advanced out of the same Committee with an identical vote.

“Hunting is an important part of the comprehensive set of bear management tools that the state employs to maintain a healthy bear population and minimize nuisance interactions with people and property. Banning bear hunting in New Jersey will only lead to an increase in nuisance bear incidents around our homes and families,” noted Senator Steven Oroho, Co-Chair of the New Jersey Angling and Hunting Conservation Caucus. “Whenever politicians try to interfere with science, we end up with bad public policy. Let’s leave New Jersey’s bear management policy to the wildlife conservation experts who best understand the issue, and are not governed by politics.”

With regards to trapping, Assembly Concurrent Resolution 25 (ACR 25) advanced out of the Assembly Committee on Regulatory Oversight and Reform and Federal Relations (3-1) on October 6, and was scheduled for a floor vote in the Assembly at 1:00 pm on October 20.  ACR 25 would again subvert scientific management principles, by declaring that the regulations adopted last year by the Fish and Game Council to allow the use of enclosed foothold traps are not consistent with the states ban on leghold traps dating back to 1984.

CSF brings more than a century of combined conservation policy experience and will remain involved in these discussions as we work alongside our partners in the sportsmen’s community to galvanize a staunch oppositional front to these attacks on science-based management. 

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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