New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy’s’ executive order that puts state owned lands off limits for this year’s bear hunt got mixed reviews at a meeting of the Fish and Game Council.
Janet Piszar is the founder of Public Trust Wildlife Management, a bear protection group. She’s upset that Governor Murphy did not fulfill a campaign promise to completely ban the bear hunt.
“When does eliminating land for the bear hunt constitute a ban? Murphy has lost credibility.”
Ed Markowski with the New Jersey Outdoor Alliance says closing state owned lands to bear hunting could put the public at a greater risk.
“The areas that we have closed are areas that are used by a lot of other New Jersey residents, not just hunters. They’re used by bird watchers and hikers and fishermen, people that wouldn’t be going in there hunting and wouldn’t be going in there armed.”
Carole Stanko with the Bureau of Wildlife Management does not expect Murphy’s order will have a big effect on the number of bears that are killed in the hunt because they often wander from state-owned property onto private land where hunting will still be allowed.
“We’ve already been hearing from hunters that they are approaching private landowners in order to get more properties opened for hunting. So this may be a good thing from that perspective in getting more land opened to bear hunting. So we’re not sure how much we’re losing and home much we’re gaining.”
Fish and Game Council chairman Frank Virgilio views the Governor’s executive order as an opportunity to bring different groups together to find common ground.
“These groups that at times have been at odds over our bear policy now have an opportunity to work together and reexamine the non-lethal methods that we control wildlife within our policy.”