SCI and New Jersey Sporting Groups File Suit to Force NJ Bear Hunt Decision
Washington, D.C. –-(AmmoLand.com)- Safari Club International (SCI) and the New Jersey State Federation of Sportsman’s Clubs Inc. (Federation) filed suit yesterday in New Jersey to force action on black bear management.
Despite the best efforts of the state’s Fish and Game Council (Council), New Jersey’s Commissioner of the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has refused to approve a new comprehensive black bear management policy (Black Bear Policy) that includes hunting as a management strategy. Under New Jersey law, without a policy in place, the State cannot hold a black bear hunt. The Commissioner’s inaction has lead to a drastic increase in bear incidents state-wide since the last bear hunt in 2005.
SCI President Larry Rudolph said, “A well regulated hunt is essential for the sound and responsible management of black bear in New Jersey and for the safety of the general public. The goal of our lawsuit is simply to put legal pressure on the Commissioner and the Council to take the necessary action to adopt a Black Bear Policy. Forcing action on a policy will allow the Council — the people entrusted under New Jersey law to manage wildlife — to decide whether a hunt is both the appropriate means of managing the state’s bear population and a valued recreational experience.”
In 2006, SCI and the Federation went to court to defend the Black Bear Policy that was adopted in 2005 because then-DEP Commissioner Lisa Jackson and Governor Jon Corzine abruptly withdrew that policy and cancelled the annual black bear hunt.
In a 2007 decision, the Court questioned the Commissioner’s authority to unilaterally withdraw the Black Bear Policy, but nevertheless invalidated the 2005 Policy, finding that it had not been properly adopted in the first place. The actions of the DEP and the court’s ruling left New Jersey with no approved strategies for reducing the state’s growing bear population. The Court directed the Commissioner and Council to work together to formulate a new black bear management policy, and encouraged SCI and the Federation to return to court should the parties reach an impasse. That impasse has now occurred.