New Jersey –-(Ammoland.com)- Hunters and taxidermists obtained a victory this week when a federal judge struck down New Jersey’s ban on trophy importation.
On August 29 2016, Judge Freda Wolfson of the U.S. federal court in Trenton entered an Order and Judgment against the State of New Jersey.
The Order prohibits the enforcement of the ban against activities authorized by federal law, regulation, or permit.
Hunters may continue to import, export, and possess federally authorized Big Four hunting trophies in the state.
Conservation Force, the Garden State Taxidermist Association, a New Jersey taxidermist, and five New Jersey based hunters sued the state to force an end to New Jersey’s ban on the import, possession, export, transport, and processing of hunting trophies of the African “Big Four” (elephant, leopard, lion, and rhinoceros). The plaintiffs alleged that the state’s ban was preempted by the Endangered Species Act.
Originally introduced in August 2015 by Senators Ray Lesniak, Paul Sarlo, Chris Bateman, and Robert Gordon, this legislation would have prohibited the people of New Jersey from possessing or transporting a number of different wildlife species, including the Big Five, throughout New Jersey and banned the importation of those same species from any port overseen by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.
SCI’s Department of Hunter Advocacy, along with several like-minded groups, committed resources to brief lawmakers on sound scientific principles of sustainable use conservation. Governor Christie understood this proposal would do nothing to stop poaching in Africa or elsewhere and would only penalize law-abiding citizens of New Jersey. He vetoed the ill-convinced legislation in January 2016. It was because of our collective advocacy efforts that this legislation was defeated.
Pressured by the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), Friends of Animals, and other anti-hunting groups, an identical proposal was introduced in February 2016. After meeting with legislators, it was presumed that Governor Christie would veto the legislation as he did a few months prior. However, politics is not an exact science, and after a backroom deal was cut Governor Christie conditionally vetoed the proposals, paving the way for their enactment and a judicial showdown. Again, SCI and our partners committed time and resources to this battle.
We were just as surprised as all hunters to learn of the Governor’s unexpected conditional veto.
Federal import permits are based upon science-based enhancement findings and anti-hunters obstruction denies game species the intended enhancement for which hunters know there is no substitute. The IUCN Guiding Principles on Trophy Hunting as a Tool for Creating Conservation Incentives (Ver.1.0, August 2012) state that well-managed trophy hunting can “assist in furthering conservation objectives by creating the revenue and economic incentives for the management and conservation of the target species and its habitat, as well as supporting local livelihoods” and, further, that well-managed trophy hunting is “often a higher value, lower impact land use than alternatives such as agriculture or tourism.” When a trophy hunting program incorporates the following Guiding Principles, IUCN considers that trophy hunting can serve as a conservation tool: biological sustainability; net conservation benefit; socio-economic-cultural benefit; adaptive management—planning, monitoring, and reporting; and accountable and effective governance.
SCI will continue to advocate on behalf of sportsmen and women not only in New Jersey but also throughout the country.
Although anti-hunters may think that it is preferable to influence the public with emotionally based campaigns, what they hope to achieve in the name of so-called “preservation” often fails to be in the best interest of wildlife.
SCI will continue to work with the New Jersey Legislature and other state legislatures to prevent passage of restrictive laws and policies that are detrimental to hunters and wildlife conservation. The fight in New Jersey is not over. The more we can work together as a community, the stronger our voice will be.
About Safari Club International:
Safari Club International – First For Hunters is the leader in protecting the freedom to hunt and in promoting wildlife conservation worldwide. SCI’s approximately 200 Chapters represent all 50 of the United States as well as 106 other countries. SCI’s proactive leadership in a host of cooperative wildlife conservation, outdoor education and humanitarian programs, with the SCI Foundation and other conservation groups, research institutions and government agencies, empowers sportsmen to be contributing community members and participants in sound wildlife management and conservation.
Visit the home page www.SafariClub.org, or call (520) 620-1220 for more information.