New Jersey anti-hunting activists are at it again, but they’re not just trying to save black bears this time. New Jersey’s bear hunting situation has been in the news quite a bit since 2017 after Gov. Phil Murphy was elected and planned to ban hunting them statewide.
Fortunately, hunting is regulated by the Division of Fish and Wildlife in New Jersey, and the governor can’t just ban hunting everywhere, unilaterally. The Division manages hunting to help control the population of black bears in the state.
The Division’s website reports that black bears live in all 21 counties in the state, even though New Jersey is the most densely human-populated state in the nation. Bears frequently roam neighborhoods and raid garbage cans. Although they are commonly seen and encountered, bears are not domesticated or tame — encountering them is nothing like encountering the state’s hundreds of thousands of deer.
Still, Gov. Murphy managed to ban bear hunters from using state lands to hunt bears in 2018. Hunting is still permitted on private property (over 1 million acres of it). That decision wasn’t based on any kind of science or logic — it’s just what activists demanded. The bear hunt had been active since 2003 after a 30-year ban.
Activists have currently set their sights on banning hunting on a town by town basis. According to centraljersey.com, last fall, the Holmdel Township expanded their definition of a weapon to include all archery and crossbow equipment, airguns, and — get this — slingshots.
Apparently, they didn’t want anyone to be able to hunt from a treestand in their town, and they successfully ensured that no one can use any kind of projectile device in the township borders. Keeping a traditional form of recreation out of their backyards wasn’t good enough; they had to ensure that you can’t do it in your backyard, either.
There’s an active petition on change.org right now to stop the River Vale Township from allowing deer hunting on city-owned lands, like the golf course. If it’s anything like other golf courses, it probably hosts a disproportionately large number of deer and allowing a hunt would be a great way to control the deer population. Actually, if you search change.org, you’ll find more than a hundred open petitions to stop hunting of one kind or another all over the world.
There’s nothing wrong with utilizing the proper channels to get things done, but it is wrong to lie and use false information to mislead the public which can influence the results. This petition opens with a photoshopped picture of a deer with an arrow supposedly sticking through its face (see above photo). It alleges that the hunts will be extremely cruel and that private property owners will be powerless. Children and pets will be killed, and criminals will run rampant with weapons.
Their claims are ludicrous, but it’s embarrassing that more than 2,000 people have signed the petition without learning the facts behind hunting. They seem to think that golfers will have to yield to hunters on the green while they make a stalk on a deer. They insinuate that hunters don’t have to go through the same federal background checks for firearms that other people do, which trumps anything the state’s Division of Fish and Wildlife would perform.
As hunters, we need to find ways to communicate with others about hunting that let them know we’re not a bunch of bloodthirsty hicks running around mistaking people’s pets and children for big game. It’s up to us to make sure those 2,000 River Vale residents who signed that petition understand that hunting is already highly regulated, and with hundreds of thousands of years of experience feeding our families, we’re not out there wantonly killing everything in sight.
Unfortunately, we can no longer expect the status quo to remain unchanged; we’ve got to keep our eyes open and actively look for opposition to stop it before it’s too late.