Why It Matters: In New Jersey, the Department of Environmental Protection and the New Jersey Fish and Wildlife Council serve as the premier experts on all matters relative to fish, wildlife, and their habitats. For over half of a decade, New Jersey’s Comprehensive Black Bear Management Policy (CBBMP) has lapsed due to political obstructionism. The result was expected – human-black bear conflicts skyrocketed. Bear hunting is an effective and resourceful wildlife management practice, which is why states across the nation rely on hunting to control the bear population and reduce human-wildlife conflicts. The Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation applauds the many members of the sporting industry who weighed in to support New Jersey’s CBBMP, bringing the Garden State one step closer to a more permanent reauthorization of the black bear hunting season.
- On February 2, the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) submitted a sign-on letter of support for the proposed Comprehensive Black Bear Management Policy (CBBMP) and Game Code Amendments in New Jersey.
- At the end of last year, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy invoked an emergency rulemaking to enact a CBBMP which was then approved by the New Jersey Fish and Wildlife Council.
- CSF and 13 other conservation and sportsmen’s organizations encouraged the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection to support the proposed CBBMP and reinstate a powerful management tool for controlling the bear population and reducing human-wildlife conflicts while bolstering contributions to the American System of Conservation Funding.
As CSF has reported previously, the topic of black bear hunting in New Jersey is a political football that the state has wrestled with for the past several years. At the end of 2022, an emergency rulemaking was held to reauthorize the black bear season, through which a new Comprehensive Black Bear Management Policy (CBBMP) was approved by the state’s Fish and Game Council and issued through Executive Order No. 310 by Governor Phil Murphy. However, the CBBMP was only valid for 60 days, resulting in the opening of a normal public comment period.
CSF spearheaded a partner sign-on letter that included the American Woodcock Society, Conservation Force, Dallas Safari Club, Dallas Safari Club Northeast, Delta Waterfowl, Fur Takers of America, Houston Safari Club, National Deer Association, National Rifle Association, National Trappers Association, National Wild Turkey Federation, New Jersey Outdoor Alliance, and the Ruffed Grouse Society.
The testimony highlighted the effective role that hunting plays in managing species populations, as evidenced by New Jersey’s truncated season, which saw a cumulative harvest rate of 7.1%. The letter also mentioned that reinstating hunting affords New Jersey the opportunity to deal with issues of the state-wide overabundance of black bears, thereby reducing human-wildlife conflicts. Finally, the letter captured the important role that sportsmen and women play in the unique “user pays – public benefits” structure known as the American System of Conservation Funding (ASCF), and how a black bear hunting season through the CBBMP will further contribute to the ASCF by purchasing the necessary licenses and equipment for the season – all of which will further assist the conservation-driven mission of the state agency.
CSF thanks the many partners who took part in this letter and supported the continuation of black bear hunting in New Jersey. Further updates on this topic may be made available when possible.