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New Jersey Legislature with a Flurry of Sportsmen’s Related Bills  

While most of the country is focused on hunting seasons and upcoming elections, lawmakers in New Jersey are using their waning legislative days to push anti-sportsmen’s issues. 

Included among the bills are far reaching firearm proposals, attacks on private property rights and another attempt to chip away at sustainable, ethical trapping.  

There is one piece of good news, though, in Senate Bill 3052, which concerns the black bear saga in the state and would require an annual statewide black bear population count to be conducted. Specifically, the bill would have the Department of Environmental Protection’s Division of Fish and Wildlife, in consultation with the Fish and Game Council, conduct an annual statewide black bear population count and submit an annual report to the Governor and legislature. New Jersey has the densest population of black bears in the country, as well as the densest human population. For this reason, the Fish and Game Council has used hunting to control the bear population—until the Governor shut down the hunting on public land in 2018 and statewide in 2021 as part of a campaign promise to animal rights groups. Given the ongoing struggle for action from the Department concerning a new black bear management plan which would reopen hunting as a management tool, SCI strongly supports this measure along with active management of black bears in the state.  

Now for the bad news. Legislators in the Garden State continue to push bills that are patently problematic for sportsmen and women. For starters, Assembly Bill 4717 would require a psychological examination and in-home inspection prior to the issuance of a Firearm Purchaser Identification Card (FPIC). FPICs are required for the purchase of any firearm in the state. Additionally, Assembly Bill 4769 makes further changes to the FPIC and introduces subjective government measures that could be used to deny issuance of a FPIC.  

Secondly, Senate Bill 3194 is a severe overreach of private property rights. Along with the identical Assembly Bill 3732, this proposal would extend the “no hunting” zone for bow hunting around an occupied building (except for the owner or authorized person) from 150 feet to 450 feet and essentially represent de facto closures on what would cumulatively be a very large area. Additionally, the language would require private property owners and those hunting on private property with landowner permission to notify all adjoining landowners in writing that hunting will occur on that private land. The bill would also require the hunter to obtain written confirmation of receipt from neighboring landowners. SCI and other sportsmen’s organizations have vehemently opposed the bills. 

Last, Senate Concurrent Resolution (SCR) 124 is yet another attack on trapping. SCR 124 is a non-binding resolution that incorrectly asserts enclosed foothold traps are cruel and inhumane. Trapping with enclosed foothold traps is an essential wildlife management tool and these traps, by default, are designed to avoid non-target animals. These traps fall within best management practices of trapping and represent a scientifically proven way to manage wildlife populations and wildlife damage. Although the resolution is non-binding, SCI opposes any legislative statement that spreads misinformation about ethical and humane methods of trapping. 

SCI strongly opposes these anti-sportsmen’s bills and encourages New Jersey residents to contact their legislators to ensure that laws regarding hunting, firearms, and wildlife management are not dictated by emotional sentiment.  

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