THE END OF 2020, CHALLENGES COMING IN 2021
Bear Hunting Magazine|January - February 2021
SOMETHINGS EVERY SPORTSMAN OUGHT TO KNOW ABOUT. STAY ENGAGED!
Brian Lynn

With 2020 finally behind us, the promise of a new year looms. It has to be better than the hardships of the last year we’ve all suffered through. From the pandemic and mandates to the election season and economy, 2020 has shown us exactly how precarious of a position our interests – outdoor or otherwise – are actually in.

Make no mistake, our outdoor pastimes and businesses are under attack, too, and the pandemic did nothing to slow that affront. Animal-rights and anti-hunting activists have used any means necessary to pass legislation and have argued any justification in court or before game commissions – from climate change and safety to muddying Endangered Species Act science and infringing on the Second Amendment – to stop wildlife management tactics. Just as every state in the Union faced fallout from the pandemic, and each handled it slightly different, every state also handled challenges to hunting, fishing and wildlife management differently, which had different outcomes for sportsmen. Legislation to end the year typifies the diverse means of wildlife management across states and nationally.

NEW JERSEY BEAR BAN UPHELD, DESPITE SCIENCE

A New Jersey Administrative Law Judge issued her initial ruling in favor of Gov. Phil Murphy who unilaterally closed black bear hunting on state managed land in 2018. The governor’s decision to close state lands had no scientific backing and was only done to fulfill a campaign promise.

Sportsmen’s Alliance, Safari Club International and the New Jersey Outdoor Alliance claimed that the state violated New Jersey law by banning black bear hunting on state-managed lands without scientific justification, but instead in fulfillment of a campaign promise. We were hopeful to receive a positive result but in this case the judge sided with the defendant even when limited scientific data was provided to uphold such an order.

During the court proceedings, the state offered no persuasive data or evidence to support the closure of state lands; the very definition of “arbitrary and capricious,” as well as case law. In fact, the governor and commissioner acted against the recommendations and warnings of the state’s own staff, as well as years of supporting evidence. Even the state’s expert witness acknowledged key points to our argument; at one point during cross-examination he paused for a full minute before admitting that closing state lands might increase bear incidents in adjacent communities.

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