11:32 am - Monday May 28, 2012

State’s Wildlife Management A Sham

Wildlife ManagementWhen it comes to wildlife management in New Jersey, there is nothing democratic about the process at all.

The issue of the composition of the Fish and Game Council, mandated by state statues back in 1940, has been the topic of discussion in newspaper articles for several years now. Does this body wield too much power?

As an agency in, but not of, the Department Of Environmental Protection, this 11-member body ( now only represented by eight members ) once autonomous, is charged with the responsibility of setting the state’s game code, regulations, seasons, bag limits, etc. and serves by appointment and at the pleasure of the governor. When the public opposes a recommendation of this council in overwhelming percentages by means of a public comment period, such as the ever-controversial bear hunt, they respond with “the decisions of this council are not contingent on public opinions.” In other words ignorance of the public, to fulfill its mandated purpose of supplying sufficient game for sport and recreational hunting enthusiasts. Therefore, the public comment period, required by law, is nothing more than a farce designed to appease the general public.

As stakeholders of every species of wildlife found in the state, as well as taxpayers, why does the general public not have an equal representation on wildlife management issues? Since the retirement of Jack Schrier, has there even been a public liaison council member on the council? Why are we subjected to the finality of decisions rendered by this council, especially where overwhelming opposition may apply. I fail to see the democracy of this “setup.”

Working in conjunction with the state agency, the Division of Fish and Wildlife, with final approval of decisions left to the commissioner of the Department Of Environmental Protection, these agencies consistently represent their revenue base, hunting and angling enthusiasts, and sportsmen’s organizations, which ironically, make up a small percentage of New Jersey’s population, while completely overlooking the democratic process of government to the remaining citizens. And we allow this to continue.

With the legislative members of New Jersey government refusing to review the archaic statues of 72 years ago, there is little hope that the “stakeholders” of New Jersey’s wildlife will ever have a voice in the management of same.

With the hunts of 2010 and 2011, vehicle encounters, Category One euthanizations, depredation permit shootings and poaching taking the lives of an estimated 1,600 bears (another hunt scheduled for 2012), with a very small percentage of them being nuisance bears, were innocent bears traded off for political campaign votes?

You betcha. Thank God for democracy in government.

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