On August 20, 2018, Governor Murphy issued Executive Order No. 34  grossly limiting the hunting of black bears in the State.

“The Commissioner shall take all necessary and appropriate actions within the Commissioner’s authority to protect black bears on lands controlled by the State of New Jersey, including deciding whether to close said lands to the hunting of black bears pursuant to the Commissioner’s authority at N.J.S.A. 13:1B-5 et seq., as clarified and confirmed in Safari Club International v. New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, 373 N.J. Super. 515 (App. Div. 2004).”

The New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife (DFW), within the Department of Environmental Protection, issued a “Status Report On the Implementation of the 2015 Comprehensive Black Bear Management Policy,” dated January 4, 2018.   The report describes the evolution of bear management control in New Jersey, set forth in the “Comprehensive Black Bear Management Policy (CBBMP),” last updated in 2015.

DFW “manages black bears according to its . . . CBBMP to ensure the continued survival of black bears in New Jersey,” based on research conducted by the agency since 1980.

According to DFW, the following significant accomplishments obtained since the 2015 CBBMP was approved include:

  • DFW presented educational programs to nearly 15,000 people in 19 counties.

  • DFW partnered with “Untamed Science” to produce more than 200 copies of the Understanding Black Bears educational kits to schools.

  • DFW partnered with Untamed Science to convert the Understanding Black Bears curriculum to a web-based portal, which K-8 teachers and students can use free of charge.

  • DFW updated content on the NJDFW website.

  • DFW has updated, produced, and distributed 1,000 “Living in Bear Country” DVDs, 150,000 Know the Bear Facts brochures (40,000 in Spanish), 1,000 educational magnets, and 6,500 Bear Safety Signs for State Park trailheads.

  • DFW increased its presence on social media, specifically Facebook, to increase public awareness about bears.

  • DFW biologists captured 436 bears for research tagging and biological sampling, 77% of which were not previously tagged.

  • DFW worked on 96 bears in winter dens for ongoing fecundity measurements.

  • DFW biologists handled 2 adult female bears with a 6-cub litters.

  • DFW continues to provide samples to East Stroudsburg University for DNA analysis and research on black bear diseases and parasites.

  • DFW cooperated with University of WV and University of Utah on two research studies involving bear-human interaction.

  • DFW is collaborating with Stockton University on a research review of bear birth control efficacy.

  • DFW and Colorado State University are initiating research on bear-human conflicts.

  • DFW cooperated with PA and WV and West Virginia University on a habitat use study in the urban-wild land interface.

Despite these accomplishments, Governor Murphy, through his executive order will “limit the use of State lands for the black bear hunt” based, in part, on purported “considerable public outcry against a hunt.”  If the new test for regulation of animal issues is “public outcry” all animal-related industries should be concerned.

It appears that such limitations would not affect Special Farmer Black Bear Permits, even if the farm is a preserved farm pursuant to the State’s farmland preservation laws, since the holding of the lawsuit cited in the executive order, Safari Club International v. New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, 373 N.J. Super. 515 (App. Div. 2004), only permitted the Commissioner of the Department of Environmental Protection to limit hunting on lands owned or controlled by the Department of Environmental Protection, not the State of New Jersey.

The protection of livestock from bears remains a concern of farmers in the State.  I personally observed the lethal results of bear attacks on my patients when I was practicing as a large animal veterinarian and to horses when I served as the State Veterinarian.

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.

Look out hunters, farmers, and others in animal industries, PETA may be looking over your shoulder, literally.
Copyright: lightwise / 123RF Stock Photo

As reported by Nick Wingfield in the New York Times, “[a]nimal rights groups have turned to drones to stalk hunters as the hunters stalk wildlife.”

 

Copyright: lightwise / 123RF Stock Photo

PETA describes the drones as the perfect holiday gift, explaining:

“Users receive a live video feed on their smart phones of everything the camera records—including footage of animals who are in danger or who are being abused, whether that means a deer who was shot by a hunter and left to die, a dog who has been chained outdoors in freezing temperatures, or wildlife caught in someone’s illegal trap. Drone users can then take their footage to the authorities—potentially saving animals’ lives in the process.”

The president of U.S. Sportsmen Alliance, Nick Pinizzotto responded on the organizations website:

“The announcement of these drones comes as no surprise as PETA will stop at nothing to gain headlines.”

“The anti-hunting community continues to harass, threaten, and interfere with hunters across the country, which only further distances them from what mainstream America considers rational.”

But drone users should beware if they attempt to use these devices to spy on farmers or animals used in biomedical research. Such use may violate the Animal Enterprise Protection Act which provides

Whoever travels in interstate or foreign commerce, or uses or causes to be used the mail or any facility of interstate or foreign commerce—

 (1) for the purpose of damaging or interfering with the operations of an animal enterprise; and

(2) in connection with such purpose—

 (A) intentionally damages or causes the loss of any real or personal property (including animals or records) used by an animal enterprise, or any real or personal property of a person or entity having a connection to, relationship with, or transactions with an animal enterprise;

  (B) intentionally places a person in reasonable fear of the death of, or serious bodily injury to that person, a member of the immediate family (as defined in section 115) of that person, or a spouse or intimate partner of that person by a course of conduct involving threats, acts of vandalism, property damage, criminal trespass, harassment, or intimidation; or

  (C) conspires or attempts to do so;

shall be punished as provided for in subsection (b). 18 U.S. Code § 43

According to Edward Walsh, a research scientist who had been victimized by animal rights terrorists as described on the National Animal Interest Alliance’s website, “[t]he intent of the Animal Enterprise Protection Act (the “Act”) of 1992 was to discourage the unlawful disruption of commerce involving animals.”

The constitutionality of the Act has been challenged in Blum v. Holder, Docket number: 14-133, in a writ for certiorari to the U.S. Supreme Court, after the case in the lower courts were dismissed for lack of standing, asking:

 “Whether petitioners have standing to challenge the constitutionality of the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act, Pub. L. No. 109-374, 120 Stat. 2652 (18 U.S.C. 43), based on their allegations of planned future activities that they claim might expose them to prosecution under the Act, when (1) the court of appeals found it unreasonable to interpret the Act to cover those activities and (2) the government has disavowed any authority under the Act to prosecute petitioners for those activities.”

Stay tuned and look up!