Newly-elected New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy has banned bear hunting on state-owned public lands via executive order.
The only thing stopping Gov. Murphy from enacting a statewide ban on bear hunting, something the Governor was very vocal about during his campaign last year, is the balance of power between the governor and the state game agency. Because of statutory authority to regulate hunting seasons held by the New Jersey Fish and Game Council (NJFGC), the governor cannot ban a hunting season established by the NJFGC. He can, however, ban bear hunting on all state-owned public lands. Bear hunting is still permitted on private, county and municipal lands.
With one of the most valuable tools available for game management, hunting, banned in certain areas of the Garden State, the NJFGC estimates the bear population could double by 2022, much like it did during a prior statewide ban from 2006 to 2009. According to the NGFGCs current management plan, relocation or fertility control methods often pushed by animal rights groups, are ineffective. The NJFGC has found that even with “aversive conditioning,” bears return to urban areas after about two weeks of removal.
The Governor’s latest move is not only an attack on hunters, it is a public safety concern in a state with one of the highest black bear densities in the nation. The NRA has always supported sound game management practices based on science, unlike the Governor’s politically motivated directive. NRA has had a long history of supporting the black bear hunting season in New Jersey, and will continue to fight to protect our hunting heritage.