The C.A.S.H. Courier Newsletter
Winter 2012 Issue
Wildlife Management - Due For Change
By Janet Piszar
In NJ, a war
is raging. The adversaries are the activists for modernized wildlife
management vs. traditional hunters. The unsuspecting majority is made to
believe that hunting, although dreadful, is necessary for wildlife
The ideology that no one may own wildlife originated in
ancient Roman law and was adopted by the British Empire via the Magna Carta.
It carried over to the United States and became the antecedent of our
constitution. Public Trust Doctrines (PTD) assert that natural
resources, such as oceans, rivers, wildlife, etc., are publicly owned and
held in trust for all. It avows that no sovereign— government — can
own public assets.
In defiance of that mandate, wildlife is in fact
controlled by a small and shrinking special interest group—hunters. The
archaic statute, NJSA 13:1B-24 dictates that the trustees, a Fish and Game
Council, have eleven members. Six are hunters, nominated by the NJ
Sportsman’s Federation. Three are farmers— also hunters— nominated by the
Agricultural Convention. Of the remaining two one is the chair of the
Endangered and Non-Game Species Committee and the other one is someone
knowledgeable about land use. Clearly, the membership is biased since it is
without broad, democratic representation.
NJ statutes countermand the
PTD. In The Outdoor Heritage of New Jersey, 1937, by George C. Warren, Jr.
and H. J. Burlington, the authors describes the Fish and Game Commission:
“The agency was to be non-political with a policy of non-interference.”
They clarify that the commissioners were, men of the great outdoors,
sportsmen for the most part…”
Doe Day, The Antlerless Deer Controversy in
New Jersey, was published in 1963 by Dr. Paul Tillett, Rutgers professor,
attorney and hunter. Marion Clawson, Director of Land Use and Management
wrote in her Foreword to that book, “Wildlife management in most states is
under the political control of sportsmen and to some extent, of private
landowners on whose lands much of the hunting takes place. These interest
groups have taken over this function in large part, because of the general
indifference of the public.”
In the early 1980s, there were
approximately 200,000 hunters in NJ. NJ’s 2008 application for Federal
Aid to Wildlife Restoration funds shows 79,539 hunting license holders
including hunters from outside NJ. According to the US Dept. of
Agriculture’s NJ Census, there were approximately 3,000,000
agricultural acres in the mid 1870s and 894,426 in 1987. The most
recent 2007 census shows less than a third, or 733,450 remaining acres. A
total of 15,936 farm operators own 10,327 farms.
Today the two
controlling factions, hunters and farmers, represent less than 2% of
the state’s population but promulgate wildlife policy with total
disregard to the views of the remaining 98%.
Hunters enjoy killing and
need to purchase licenses for their recreation. Game animals are an economic
engine for the state. Therefore, management goals are to maintain surplus
inventories of game species. The states’ eligibility for Federal Aid to
Wildlife Restoration is largely calculated by the number of license
purchasers a state can attract. Thus, there is great attention paid to
hunter success and satisfaction.
What is wrong with hunter control of
wildlife? The Division of Fish & Wildlife’s (DFW) deer harvest reports for
2008, 2009, 2010 reveal that 59% of deer management zones were managed for
population increase/stabilization. Deer thrive on early succession food.
NJ’s Bureau of Land Management optimizes habitat in Wildlife Management
Areas. Mowing, controlled burning, planting, tilling, artificially
provide vast tender vegetation for deer, turkeys and other game species.
Weight, health and proliferation are boosted.
The NJ Audubon Society’s
“Forest Health and Ecological Integrity” policy paper was published in March
2005. It cites, “Wildlife management to facilitate hunting opportunities has
been a key contributor to deer over population.”
We see how the model
for wildlife control is historically rooted. However, it is
irrefutable that Clawson’s statement of “general indifference of the public”
is no longer accurate. Evolved humane-minded individuals and organizations
strive for modernization that no longer focuses on recreational killing.
Non-consumptive stakeholders have employed opposition through: lawsuits,
petitions to the courts, protests and demonstrations, education to inspire
others, lobbying, and even deliberately provoking arrests via civil
Deer are not managed for public benefit. NJ Open Public
Records Request No. 111736 reveals that in Deer Management Zones managed for
increase, no research was conducted to learn of negative consequences, such
as vehicle-deer collisions. This exposes a grievous disregard for
Many residents are aggravated by deer that forage on
landscape, emerge on roadways or leave feces in yards, but their anger must
be redirected to those responsible: the DFW and its hunter-centric
management for recreational hunting and revenue.
I conclude with the
sentiments of those far wiser than I:
The Public Trust Doctrine, Richard
A. Epstein, “Expectations must be deemed to change as time, circumstances
and public attitudes change, and expectations which might have been
reasonable at one time can cease to be reasonable.”
And, with Clawson’s
acknowledgement, “….the old sportsman-association approach may be
increasingly outmoded; new scientific understanding offers the possibility
of vastly better resource management than we have experienced in the past.”
PUBLIC TRUST Wildlife Management commands broad public representation for
equitable and lawful jurisdiction in the creation of wildlife policy. We aim
for state wildlife management that is reflective of democracy, evolved
public opinion and values, bona fide science, and the public’s full trust.
To receive quarterly newsletters and action alerts, please register your
contact information with:
Janet Piszar is Founder and President of
PUBLIC TRUST Wildlife Management, P.O. Box 646 Chatham, NJ 07928, Fax (973)
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