Alliance of Hunting Leaders to Battle New Jersey Governor in Court

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When New Jersey Gov. Philip Murphy politicized wildlife management of black bears by executive order, he undermined trained wildlife biologists and professionals who disagreed with his radical agenda, and sacrificed his own citizens’ safety while jeopardizing wildlife management in the Garden State.

“Because of Gov. Murphy’s unwarranted meddling in wildlife management, the Sportsmen’s Alliance, along with our partners at Safari Club International and New Jersey Outdoor Alliance, have no option but to protect the state’s citizens and the scientifically proven methods of wildlife management by filing suit in court,” said Evan Heusinkveld, president and CEO of the Sportsmen’s Alliance. “It’s a sad day when a governor willingly puts his own constituents at risk just to fulfill campaign rhetoric that appeases a vocal minority.”

The self-serving politicization of wildlife management took place on Aug. 20 when Gov. Murphy banned black bear hunting on all public lands controlled by the state using executive order. Bear hunting remains open on private and federal lands within the state – something Gov. Murphy expressed regret over in a social media video before promising to do everything in his power to stop it completely.

The schism over private- and public-land hunting is rooted in political power and authority. The governor acknowledged that he does not have the power to unilaterally overrule the New Jersey Fish and Game Council, which was granted the power to set hunting season regulations and dates by the legislature in order to avoid the shifting whims of politicians in office.

When the council refused to cancel the black bear hunt, Gov. Murphy issued the executive order, contradicting the spirit and letter of the law keeping wildlife management free of political entanglements, and banned any bear hunting on state-owned lands. In the order, Gov. Murphy admits that neither his office nor the Commissioner of Environmental Protection have the power to unilaterally alter or cancel a hunt, something that has been upheld several times in court.

“This is pure political pandering at its finest. Gov. Murphy knows that the wildlife experts in his own agencies use the best available science and practices when evaluating wildlife populations and setting hunting regulations,” said Heusinkveld. “This backdoor attempt to undermine scientific wildlife management is a slap in the face to those biologists, presents a clear and present danger to New Jersey’s citizens and, ultimately, hurts the entire population of bears.”

New Jersey is the most densely populated state in the country with approximately 9 million citizens, and is estimated to have the densest population of black bears with surveys topping 3,500 bears in just the northern portion of the state.

With a robust population of black bears and such a large population of people, sightings, conflicts and attacks have taken place regularly in New Jersey – including the death of a student in 2014.

About the Sportsmen’s Alliance: The Sportsmen’s Alliance protects and defends America’s wildlife conservation programs and the pursuits – hunting, fishing and trapping – that generate the money to pay for them. Sportsmen’s Alliance Foundation is responsible for public education, legal defense and research.  Its mission is accomplished through several distinct programs coordinated to provide the most complete defense possible. Stay connected to Sportsmen’s Alliance: OnlineFacebookTwitter and Instagram.