New Jersey is crawling with black bears so it’s no surprise human-bear conflicts are escalating and impacting public safety. Yet on Aug. 20 New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy sidestepped common sense to stand with animal-rights extremists and sign an executive order banning the legal hunting of bears on all state-owned—and sportsman-funded—lands. As the NRA Hunters’ Leadership Forum (HLF) website, NRAHLF.org, broke the news, NRA, hunters and non-hunters alike condemned the move, which ignored hunting’s critical role as a wildlife management tool.
The ban has immediate impact on the state’s October and December 2018 bear-hunting seasons, spurring New Jersey hunters, elected officials and the state’s Division of Fish and Wildlife (DFW) to action. Some hunters are urging officials to oppose the ban while others are organizing town meetings and asking local leaders to pass resolutions opposing it.
As NRAHLF.org noted, New Jersey State Sen. Steven Oroho is quick to remind residents that when the state’s bear hunt was cancelled in 2006, “sightings in certain neighborhoods became daily recurrences and people were rightly afraid to go outside.”
In the meantime, many hunters in the Garden State are approaching private landowners to request permission to hunt since Gov. Murphy’s executive order only applies to hunting on state lands. However, New Jersey is a small state. Murphy’s ban encompasses hunting on nearly 700,000 acres—home to a substantial number of black bears.
Calling out Gov. Murphy’s recent executive action as reckless political pandering to animal-rights extremists, NRA-ILA New Jersey State Director Darin Goens said it best. “The NRA is a strong supporter of our hunting traditions, and that means conservation and game management based on science, not politics. New Jersey has one of the highest black bear densities in the country, and without hunting, an unchecked bear population is going to be a real threat to the general public as human-bear interactions increase. There really is no excuse for the governor usurping the Division of Fish and Wildlife Council’s authority on this issue.”
Meanwhile, the DFW reports that bears continue to roam all of New Jersey’s 21 counties, and estimates there are 3,500 black bears in the northwest corner of the state alone.
Telling the Truth about Hunters and Hunting NRAHLF.org monitors the issues impacting the future of hunting and wildlife conservation on the state, national and international levels, exposes the agenda of animal-rights extremist groups and shares the stories of our American hunting traditions. Visit NRAHLF.org, share our story links and sign up to receive our bi-weekly e-newsletters and social media alerts. Fortunately for us hunters, the NRA does more to save hunting’s future than any other organization. Without the firepower of the NRA there would be no hunting, and without hunting there would be no conservation. —Karen Mehall Phillips, Senior Editor, NRAHLF.org