WHEREAS, excessive populations of wildlife, and the accompanying economic and natural resource losses to farmers, livestock owners, homeowners, businesses and public lands caused by such wildlife populations, continue at critical levels in New Jersey; and
WHEREAS, widespread development in New Jersey has led deer, black bear, geese, starlings, turkeys and other birds, as well as small mammals, to seek the relatively open spaces of New Jersey farmland and its appurtenant woodlands, infiltrating and feeding upon the crops farmers depend upon for their livelihood and that residents depend upon for fresh, nutritious, locally grown and produced foods, and risking the introduction of diseases common to wildlife into the domestic animal population and to humans; and
WHEREAS, the burgeoning black bear population, in particular, poses a threat to smaller agricultural animals such as sheep and goats -- as well as to New Jersey beekeepers’ honeybee colonies that are vital to pollinating many of New Jersey’s leading produce crops and which account for a growing fresh honey supply -- and these bears have increasingly come into contact with humans in residential areas; and
WHEREAS, the 1999 Report to the Governor on Deer Management in New Jersey and the 2005 adoption of the Comprehensive Black Bear Management Strategy call for using hunting, among other methods, as a tool to manage these wildlife populations.
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that we, the delegates to the 97th State Agricultural Convention, assembled in Atlantic City, New Jersey, on January 18-19, 2012, do hereby urge the Governor, the Legislature, the New Jersey Fish and Game Council and/or the New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife and/or all other appropriate state, federal and local agencies to effectuate the following:
- Continue to support a science-based black bear management methodology that incorporates a hunting season as needed.
- Continue to work with the U.S. Department of the Interior, Division of Migratory Birds, to extend the statewide resident goose season year-round, and increase the daily bag limit, except during times of migration.
- Encourage the New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife to institute policies that aggressively decrease the numbers of doe in the state’s deer population. Including reintroduction of the Earn-A-Buck program.
- Encourage the New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife to develop a new program to allow hunters on depredation permits to be compensated for their time and services.
- Increase the number of available turkey hunting permits and conduct and/or support extramural research on turkey damage.
- Adequately fund Hunters Helping the Hungry, through which hunters donate game meat to feeding organizations and which in 2001 received a legislative grant of $95,000 and in 2003 received a matching grant of $50,000 from the Division of Fish and Wildlife, but since then has relied entirely on private donations.
- Continue cooperative Avian Influenza work with the New Jersey Department of Agriculture.
- Continue to work with the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Wildlife Services and the New Jersey Department of Agriculture on the joint feral pig testing and surveillance, and to investigate and evaluate methods of eliminating feral pig populations.
- Continue to work cooperatively with the New Jersey Department of Agriculture and United States Department of Agriculture in the monitoring of freshwater fish diseases including Viral Hemorrhagic Septicimia.
- Enact legislation to annually appropriate funds for wildlife damage surveys for New Jersey, wildlife damage research, and education at the Rutgers/NJAES Center for Wildlife Damage Control.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that we urge the Governor and Legislature to support pending legislation that calls for moving the New Jersey Fish and Game Council and the Division of Fish and Wildlife into the New Jersey Department of Agriculture, creating a more logical alignment with USDA and its myriad of wildlife programs, and thus resulting in a better-coordinated effort to balance the needs of wildlife with those of the agricultural sector, provided that all concerns about such a realignment are addressed through a combined effort of the NJDA and NJDEP, with an eye toward accomplishing the missions of both departments.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that we urge the Governor and Legislature to require wildlife management plans for all publicly funded open space lands that would maintain the population levels of wildlife on those properties at or below levels approved by the New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife biologists.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that we urge the Legislature to pass, and the Governor to sign, legislation that requires all publicly owned lands purchased or operated with any public funds to be managed with site-specific wildlife management plans, approved by the New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife or the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, in consultation with the Department.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that we urge New Jersey’s Congressional Delegation to sponsor and support federal legislation to increase, by at least $400,000, the USDA-APHIS Wildlife Services budget for staffing and support for a pilot Cooperative Waterfowl Damage Management Program in New Jersey, and to implement actions in support of the “Depredation Order at Agricultural Facilities” contained in the newly-completed Environmental Impact Statement for Canada Geese.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that we urge New Jersey’s Congressional Delegation to consider legislation authorizing and funding the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to make restitution to farmers for wildlife damage to crops, livestock and bee hives and for costs incurred for materials and labor used to prevent damage caused by wildlife.