TRENTON, N.J. — Sportsmen helped defeat legislation backed by two New Jersey lawmakers that would have weakened the state's ability to manage natural resources for anglers and hunters.
State Sen. Ellen Karcher (D-Freehold) and Assemblyman Mike Panter (D-Shrewsbury) had sponsored legislation that would remove sportsmen and biologists from the Fish and Game Council and allow anti-hunting political appointees to take their place. Panter also had supported bills that would ban bear hunting, fund the animal rights agenda, and strip the New Jersey Fish and Game Commission of its management authority, according to the U.S. Sportsmen's Alliance (USSA).
New Jersey sportsmen demonstrated that the hunting community has the numbers to affect elections and influence policy," said USSA President Bud Pidgeon.
"Hats off to New Jersey sportsmen who pulled together to send a message that our community will not stand idle while lawmakers attack the traditions of law-abiding sportsmen."
Members of the New Jersey B.A.S.S. Federation Nation helped with the publicity blitz that warned the state's anglers and hunters of the danger.
President Mike Kaminskas and his staff encouraged members to write letters, attend rallies and voice their opposition with their votes.
"It was a very serious concern for all," Kaminskas said.
And it still is. While primary sponsors were defeated, AB 3275 awaits a vote on the Assembly floor, according to the USSA.
"This bill would set a dangerous precedent around the country for anti-hunting and anti-fishing groups to push for similar legislation in other states," said Chris Horton, national conservation director for BASS.
Its intent, he explained, is to redirect the council's priorities from managing the resource for public consumption and enjoyment to a more "preservationist-type agency." For example, it would eliminate "use and development of fish and game for public recreation and food supply" from the council's mission.
"The sad thing is, they don't realize, or choose not to acknowledge, that anglers and hunters have always footed the majority of the bill for fish and wildlife conservation. If you do away with hunting and fishing, who's going to pick up the tab for fish and wildlife management?" Horton added rhetorically.
"Certainly not the PETA [People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals] and HSUS [Humane Society of the United States] members."