Conservation Force, a “non-profit 501(c)(3) public foundation formed to conserve wildlife and wild places,” along with several individuals and the Garden State Taxidermist Association, filed a lawsuit against the New Jersey’s Acting Attorney General and Bob Martin, Commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, claiming that two New Jersey laws banning “resident possession, import, export, and transport (among other things) of certain game animal parts and products in the State of New Jersey,” are preempted by federal law.
Bills S977 and S978, “[s]igned into law as P.L. 2016, c. 6 and P.L. 2016, c. 7, respectively,” “prohibit resident possession, import, export, and transport . . . certain game animal parts and products in the State of New Jersey and in facilities owned or operated by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.” Conservation Force v. Porrino, Case no. 16-04124, Complaint Conservation Force v Porrino at paragraph 1.
The Complaint describes in detail the unintended consequences the challenged laws will have on “far-reaching negative consequences for the specially-designed conservation strategies and plans for elephant, leopard, lion, and rhino.” Id., at paragraph 10.
Licensed, regulated tourist safari hunting is an essential component of the conservation programs for elephant, leopard, lion, rhino, and many other species. It generates the primary means and incentives to safeguard most wildlife habitat in Southern and Eastern Africa, where most of these species persist. It funds most of the operations, including law enforcement, of the relevant range-state wildlife authorities. It creates community incentives that reduce the threat of human-wildlife conflict and lead rural people to protect wildlife as assets. And it sustains the three primary tiers of anti-poaching: government law enforcement, hunting operator anti-poaching, and community game scouts. Id., at paragraph 2.
Revenue from licensed, regulated tourist safari hunting is the backbone of anti-poaching in Southern and Eastern Africa. For example, in Tanzania hunting revenue funds approximately 80% of usual wildlife authority anti-poaching, and a similar percentage in Zimbabwe. Hunting revenue funds anti-poaching teams equipped and run by individual operators, and community game scouts providing additional ―boots on the ground.‖ All three primary tiers of anti-poaching (state wildlife authority, operators, and communities) are sustained by the user-pay, safari hunting conservation system – which it was designed to do. Id., at paragraph 6.
Southern and parts of Eastern Africa have excelled in sustainable use-based conservation, depending mainly on tourist safari hunting. Successful safari hunting programs exist in the range nations that support and secure the largest populations of Cape buffalo, African elephant, leopard, lion, and rhino (the ―Big Five; ―Big Four refers to these species without Cape buffalo). Big Five hunts in these countries are the highest priced and so provide the greatest revenue and benefits, by expert design, in cooperation with the endangered species programs of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (―USFWS) through import permitting. Id., at paragraph 7.
In the Complaint and the Memorandum of Law in support of Plaintiffs’ Application for a Preliminary Injunction, Plaintiffs assert that the laws are preempted by the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and New Jersey impermissibly seeks to substitute its judgment for that of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the federal agency responsible for implementing the ESA, which permits the conduct New Jersey has now prohibited.