Legislation proposed in New Jersey would curb hunters’ ability to hunt on private property, even if it’s their own land, in the name of general safety. Assembly Bill 3732 would increase the buffer around properties where hunters are prohibited from taking game and more.
Currently, New Jersey bars bowhunters from taking game within 150 feet of an occupied building and within 450 feet of a school playground. It also prohibits knocking an arrow or carrying a loaded firearm in those buffer zones.
The new bill would change that to 450 feet across the board, and to complicate hunting further, require land owners to give notice to all of their neighbors 24 hours prior to a hunt. It also requires all bow hunters to take game from an elevated position.
It also defines an occupied building as “any building constructed or adapted for overnight accommodation of a person, or for operating a business or engaging in an activity therein, whether or not a person is actually present.”
The law specifies that land owners would have to provide written notification to all neighbors with adjacent property and receive written receipts confirming that the neighbors have been notified of any hunts on their property.
While the goal of the bill, also called the “Restoring Safety Buffer Law,” is to prevent hunting accidents, it’s clear that these restrictions will make hunting on private property extremely difficult.
Extending the size of the buffer will dramatically affect how much property hunters have access to, but the notification system could all but prohibit hunting on private property entirely.
If a neighbor refuses to acknowledge their notification, or simply isn’t present to be notified, hunters won’t be allowed to hunt on their own property.
“Not only is this a huge and unnecessary burden on landowners and a blow to private property rights, but there is no guarantee that neighboring landowners will confirm receipt of an adjacent landowner’s hunting notice,” said the United Bowhunters of New Jersey. “As a result, a neighbor can effectively prevent a landowner from hunting his or her own property.”
“A3732 is a blatant attempt to hinder the ability of New Jersey hunters to head afield. Hunting, and bowhunting specifically, has a great safety record – especially for non-hunters who are sharing the woods,” said the NDA.
“Ridiculous,” said NDA President and CEO Nick Pinizzotto to Outdoor Life. “That’s the first word that comes to mind when I read Assembly Bill 3732. Not only would such a move be unjustified based on the long positive safety record by hunters — it is also an affront to private property rights.”