A coalition of hunting groups is suing the state of New Jersey after its first-year Democratic governor banned hunting black bears on state lands.
New Jersey Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy issued an executive order in August, shutting off all state lands from hunters wanting to bag a black bear. Murphy held back from banning black bear hunts altogether because he lacked the “authority,” The Associated Press reports.
“New Jersey sportsmen only want access to the lands they pay for and maintain and for wildlife policy to be free from the special interest agendas of anti-hunting extremists and career politicians who are long on rhetoric and short on science,” New Jersey Outdoor Alliance (NJOA), president Ed Markowski said in a statement.
NJOA is joined by Safari Club International (SCI) and the Sportsmen’s Alliance Foundation in the lawsuit. The groups say Murphy violated state law by instating the ban without any scientific or policy justification.
The coalition also alleges the state is violating federal laws by breaching agreements it has with the federal government through funding laws. Murphy also reportedly made the decision unilaterally without giving the public a chance to voice concerns or offer additional evidence or data.
“New Jersey has held successful and scientifically-sound black bear hunts since 2010, but this year the new governor promised to stop the hunt regardless of what the state’s own wildlife professionals decide,” SCI president Paul Babaz said in a statement.
New Jersey Sierra Club director Jeff Tittel praised the Murphy decision in August, calling it a “good first start.”
“Unfortunately, there’s plenty of private lands for these bears to still be killed on including county parklands, water company lands, non-profit lands and municipal lands,” Tittel said in a statement, according to The AP. (RELATED: Court Caves To Environmentalists, Postpones First Grizzly Hunts In Decades)
The lawsuit comes 10 days after a federal judge canceled a series of grizzly bear hunts scheduled after the Trump administration removed the grizzly from the Endangered Species List, something the federal government has been attempting since the Obama administration. U.S. District Court Judge Dana Christensen reversed the decision of the federal government without stating a reason, placing the bear back on the Endangered Species List.
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