Update on Bill (A) 1365

by John Toth
(from Jersey Coast Anglers Association August 2021 Newsletter)

Bill (A) 1365 was passed out of the Assembly Agricultural Committee on June 14th with the purpose of banning competitive events for trappers and hunters in our state. The culprits behind this bill are the animal right activists who desire to end not only hunting, but eventually competitive fishing events in our state. They are well organized and spend a lot of energy and time influencing our legislators to sponsor bills like this one. While the penalties may change for holding a competitive hunting event that has prize or monetary rewards, the penalties for violating this bill include:

Originally, this bill included anglers, both fresh and saltwater, but they were removed from the bill since they would also be expected to fight its passage. The Fisherman Magazine regularly lists saltwater tournaments and even sponsors a Dream Boat Tournament. Imagine if these tournaments would be canceled since they would be in violation of this bill! While we are presently not included in it, if hunters and trappers cannot hold competitive events, do you think anglers would not be the next target of animal right activists?

What can we do to stop this misguided legislation? Contact your legislators and tell them you want them to oppose the passage of Bill (A) 1365. As it now stands, the animal right activists claim that this bill protects bobcats, but bobcats are already protected in New Jersey. The version of this bill protects raccoons, skunks and coyotes, but 80% of rabies cases in our state are attributed to these animals. Hunting contests not only helps to reduce these predator populations, but they also help to procure samples that lead to mitigation processes.

Sometimes, legislators do not fully understand the consequences of the bills that they sponsor or sign on to. I have seen this in the past while talking to them. That is why, at the time of my writing this column, I have asked for a meeting with Assemblyman Dan Benson from my district who is a sponsor of this bill to talk to him so he has a better appreciation of our concerns with it and, hopefully, withdraw his support for it.

About 10 years ago, Assemblyman Panter and Senator Karcher were persuaded by the animal right activists to stuff the NJ Fish & Game Council with a lot their members and, if successful, they would eventually end hunting and fishing in this state as we know it. They were thrown out of office by the collective efforts of our hunting and fishing organizations. Unfortunately, this fight with animal right activists is far from over and that is why we have Bill (A) 1365. They also want to again change the NJ Fish & Game Council by having them appointed to it so that they can influence the decisions made by this Council in their direction. We have to remain diligent in protecting our hunting and fishing rights from individuals and organizations that want to take them away from us outright or through a slow but shadowy way like this bill.

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