wildlife and game animals are a publicly owned resource, they are
under the statutory control of a small and shrinking special
interest group—hunters. N.J.S.A. 13:1B-24 dictates
that the wildlife trustees, the Fish and Game Council, be
a body of eleven members. Six
are hunters, three are farmers --also hunters. The
remaining two members are the chair of the Endangered and Non-Game
Species Committee, and a person knowledgeable in land management.
Why then are New
Jersey statutes able to countermand this
In 1963, Marion
Clawson wrote the foreword to Doe
Day: The Antlerless Deer Controversy in New Jersey. In
a historical perspective, she recorded that, “These
interest groups have taken over this function in
large part, because
of the general disinterest of the public.”
trustee membership is narrow, biased and without regard for
disparate public views and values, as per the spirit of the Public
Trust Doctorine (PTD). Council
members are not democratically elected to represent the broad
populace who are equally
entitled as joint owners of the wildlife resource.
decades in NJ, citizens have shown themselves to be exceedingly
interested in wildlife and attempt to influence management policy. Stakeholders
participate within the established system of public hearings,
public comment periods, and unsolicited correspondence. These
prove to be consistently inconsequential, even when the majority
opinions submitted dissent to proposed wildlife policy. Yet,
on two separate occasions, one hunter’s request resulted in policy
changes in the Game Code, demonstrating prejudicial adoption.
The majority of
stakeholders have protested hunters’ special interest control in
all ways: lawsuits,
legislation, public demonstrations, even civil disobedience. Historically
and today, NJ statutes violate both the
the PTD. One
proof is in
N.J.S.A. 23:1B-25 that calls for the“broadest representation of
sportsmen” but eliminates representation of the majority of
joint owners---the non-hunting public.
to the PTD regarding wildlife management are not just about
is about severely flawed government. The
failure of NJ to meet its obligations to the PTD resonates at the
foundation of our
failure of NJ to give broad representation to wildlife policy
perpetuates the unjust privilege that was granted over a hundred
years ago to hunters and farmers. Those
historic reasons why hunters and farmers were given authority over
wildlife no longer exist and can no longer be justified.
We can no longer
tolerate this severely
flawed inequity; the statues are indisputably archaic
and undemocratic. Since
2004, all NJ taxpayers fund the management of wildlife, yet 99%
have no consequential voice in policy making.
Further proof of
violation to the PTD is that policy made by hunters for hunters
fails to manage wildlife for the public benefit—the basis of PTD. This
is proved by their management of deer for population increase and
stabilization in 59% of Deer Management Zones (DMZ). The
Division of Fish and Wildlife (DFW) objective is for hunter
success, satisfaction and economic gain. The
DFW is dependent upon hunting license revenue to fund the
hunter-controlled agencies to continue to finance recreational
hunting activities. By maintaining this priority, the
DFW has proven its disregard for: public
safety via vehicle-deer
economic loss of crops, nursery inventory, private landscaping,
the ecological imbalance in forests, etc. etc.
Epstein quotes in, “The Public Trust: Expectations
must be deemed to change as time, circumstances and the public
attitude change, and expectations which might have been
reasonable at one time can cease to be reasonable.”
Clinton’s mayor is
misguided in his proposed resolution concerning NJ’s
population of White Tailed Deer. He seems totally
unaware that the State Division of Fish and Wildlife (DFW)
manages deer for high inventory. Deer are a coveted
commodity; so it’s about the buck$.
As per the Public
Trust Doctrine, deer and wildlife are a publicly owned resource.
Yet for the last century they have been under the
political control of hunters, via the archaic N.J.S.A. 23:1B-24.
All the reasons for hunter control cease to exist, yet this
As big game
animals, deer are the economic engine for the
DFW. Insuring hunter success and satisfaction
maintains the sales of hunting licenses, a two-fold income.
The obscure second source is the
Pittman-Robertson Law, 1937, a.k.a. Wildlife
Restoration Fund. The federal government collects excise tax
on firearms and hunting apparatus. The higher the annual
sale of NJ hunting licenses, the greater the
appropriation of these federal dollars.
All NJ hunters
must purchase a hunting license annually, and
allowing access grants them needed
additional hunting grounds. The Wildlife Society is a
hunting organization and understands that survivors of
hunted species reproduce at maximum capacity as more
food is available to them. This insures a
healthy new generation to perpetuate the perception
that further hunting is required.
The NJ Audubon
Society’s White Paper Report, Forest Health and Ecological
Integrity… (pg.9) reports, “Wildlife management to facilitate
hunting opportunities has been a key contributor to deer
overpopulation.” The DEP will release
caution about deer on roadways but it will not
publicly take responsibility for increasing that
risk, or for any other negative
Five years of Open
Public Record responses show that 59% of NJ Deer Management
Zones (DMZ) are managed for deer increase/stability---not
Open Public Records
Act (OPRA) surrenders expose that in DMZs
managed for increase: #145045 exposed the State conducts
no research on vehicle-deer collisions, #145044 no research
on forest depredation/impact by deer in any state, county
municipal or private lands; #145049 farmer
depredation permits attempt to micro-manage deer
to alleviate crop depredation. All are the
negative consequences of managing deer for shootable surplus.
unsuspecting residents, the mayor is clueless that the DFW
aim is to perpetuate the culture of recreational hunting.
goals are directly contrary to the premise of the PUBLIC
TRUST DOCTRINE, as the DFW’s deer and game animal
management is to the detriment of the 99% of the
public, who, though non-hunters, are equal
co-owners of the wildlife resource.