Coalition of outdoorsmen threaten lawsuit over N.J. ban on black bear hunting

Governor banned hunters from using state-owned land for hunting bears

David Madden
September 26, 2018 - 4:05 pm
Black Bear

TRENTON, N.J. (KYW Newsradio) — An organization representing New Jersey hunters plans to go to court, opposing the Murphy administration’s ban on using state-owned lands to allow for this year’s black bear hunt.

Gov. Phil Murphy issued an executive order last month that banned hunters from using state parks and other open space under its control — about 700,000 acres altogether.

RELATED: N.J. governor curbs the scope of state's annual black bear hunt

The New Jersey Outdoor Alliance (NJOA) is teaming up with two other national organizations — Sportsmen’s Alliance and Safari Club International — to challenge the ban in New Jersey Superior Court.

"New Jersey’s 1.2 million sportsmen are the ones who pay for those lands through all the money that they spend on gear, licenses and permits every year," said NJOA trustee Cody McLaughlin, "and we just think it’s only right that they should be able to pursue their sports on the lands that they pay for."

The organizations are looking for hunters to step up to serve as plaintiffs in the suit, but time may not be on their side in the short term. The beginning of the bear hunting season starts in less than two weeks. 

But McLaughlin said they have received a good amount of responses to their plan from supporters.

"My phone’s been ringing off the hook," he added. "My Twitter’s blowing up. My Facebook’s blowing up with people both in support and who want to get involved."

The governor’s ban does not cover lands that are not under direct state control. So the bear hunt, set to begin Oct. 8, can proceed where allowed on municipal or county land or on private property.

In the past, some governors have allowed the hunt while others have stopped it statewide. A move to ban it by law has not gone through the legislature.