New Jersey Governor Ends Bear Hunting on State Lands
An interesting development in New Jersey, not supported by science but only by public sentiment from anti-hunting groups. From the NY Times
On Monday, Gov. Philip D. Murphy signed an executive order effectively ending the state’s planned 2018 bear hunt on all state-owned lands. It was an attempt to fulfill a campaign pledge to environmental activists.
But those same activists were not exactly thrilled.
“Stopping the hunt on state lands does not stop the hunt,” said Jeff Tittel, the director of the New Jersey Sierra Club. “It only changes where the bears get killed. The hunt will continue on other public lands, including county parks, water company lands and private lands. We still need Governor Murphy to keep his commitment to ban the bear hunt completely.”
Although Murphy is a Democratic governor, it would be unfair to say this is entirely a partisan issue. Yes, the anti-hunting crowd generally finds their home on the Left, but the Democratic party is also home to plenty of moderate and conservative Democrats who support hunting rights:
The governor’s office argued that the executive order went as far as Mr. Murphy could within his executive authority, absent an agreeable legislature. And Mr. Murphy hasn’t enjoyed an especially agreeable relationship with Stephen M. Sweeney, the Democratic Senate president. Mr. Sweeney is the co-chairman of the New Jersey Angling and Hunting Conservation Caucus and he has kept legislation restricting the hunt from the Senate floor in the past.
How best to deal with New Jersey’s bears has been an ongoing issue for several decades:
The debate over how New Jersey’s residents and bears should get along dates back decades. Black bears were regularly hunted in the state until 1970, when fewer than 100 bears remained. The hunts were halted until 2003, when Gov. James E. McGreevey reinstated them amid increased complaints about bears raiding garbage cans and beehives, damaging crops, and killing livestock and pets.
But Mr. McGreevey scuttled the hunt again in 2004, facing criticism and outrage from environmentalists over his decision. A limited bear hunt returned for a year in 2005 after renewed complaints of bears on private property, permitted only in a 1,600 square mile area in the northwestern part of the state. Then Gov. Jon S. Corzine canceled the 2006 hunt by delaying state regulations authorizing the coming bear seasons.
The hunts resumed in 2010 under Gov. Chris Christie and have continued since.
The most damning charge against the decision comes from a recent report which explained the impact of the hunting ban. From NJ.com: “A report released just before Murphy took office said ending the bear hunt could cause New Jersey’s bear population to double by 2022.”
Writing for MeatEater, Steven Rinella says:
“In a move that blatantly caters to anti-hunters and ignores science-based conservation tools, New Jersey’s governor outlawed bear hunting on the state’s public lands. This undermines the ability of wildlife managers to do their job and prevents hunters from enjoying their public lands. Meanwhile, “State officials have estimated around 3,500 bears live in northern New Jersey, and… that New Jersey has the densest bear populations on the continent.”