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Director’s Message

Hunting Regulations Icon New Jersey Hunting

Dave Chanda

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Next month hunters can participate in the first modern archery hunt for black bears in the State of New Jersey in more than 40 years. The black bear archery season comes on the heels of a very successful 2015 bear season, and is necessitated by New Jersey’s very robust and growing black bear population. The New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife’s (Division) Comprehensive Black Bear Management Policy includes an integrated approach which includes public education, lethal and non-lethal control, research and monitoring, law enforcement to reduce human-bear conflicts and a controlled hunt.

The previous black bear hunting seasons established by the New Jersey Fish and Game Council (Council) were very conservative. The Council established a December hunting season knowing that—based upon Division research—many female black bear would already be in their winter den and would not be available for harvest. This early format was important to demonstrate to the public that bears could be harvested safely and that by using hunting as a management tool, nuisance complaints could be mitigated, and bear population growth could be slowed. However, these conservative black bear hunting seasons have not allowed the Division to reach population management objectives, prompting the establishment of the 2016 archery season.

Due to the anticipated high interest in the archery bear season, the Division expects permits will sell out early and urge hunters to purchase your permits as soon as they are available in September. As a reminder, bear hunting permits are not specific to archery or firearm, so even shotgun-only bear hunters need to get their permits before they sell out.

Although last year’s white-tailed deer harvest was disappointing, the Division fully expects the 2016-17 deer hunting season to be one of the best for hunters. The extended periods of unseasonably warm weather last year, combined with super-abundant acorn production meant many deer were excluded from the harvest and will therefore be available for harvest this year.

It has also been my privilege to work closely with the Blue Ribbon Panel on Sustaining America’s Diverse Fish and Wildlife Resources (Panel). The Panel—co-chaired by John L. Morris, noted conservationist and founder of Bass Pro Shops, and former Wyoming governor David Freudenthal—was established to create a 21st century system of funding to manage wildlife species of greatest conservation need. Panel members include representatives from the outdoor recreation retail and manufacturing sector, the energy and automotive industries, private landowners, educational institutions, conservation organizations, sportsmen’s groups and state fish and wildlife agencies.

Conservation efforts can no longer rely solely on the financial contribution of hunters and anglers through their license fees and the Pittman-Robertson and Dingell-Johnson acts to sustain fish and wildlife management. The Panel is striving to dedicate up to $1.3 billion in new funding every year from existing energy and mineral resource development revenues to fund state fish and wildlife agencies. Bringing the Panel’s plan to fruition is still most likely several years in the offing but could result in substantial funding to the Division to support managing fish and wildlife within our borders.

Stay tuned for further updates, see our feature on the Blue Ribbon Panel on Sustaining America’s Diverse Fish and Wildlife Resources or visit http://www.fishwildlife.org/index.php?section=blueribbonpanel for more information.