Four new bills that would expand New Jersey hunting opportunities are currently being considered by a legislative committee.
On Monday, a New Jersey legislative committee advanced four bills that have potential to expand hunting opportunities in the Garden State.
The Senate's environment committee voted 3-2 on each bill, and after extensive debates it's not clear whether all the proposed New Jersey hunting changes will take effect.
State Senate President Steve Sweeney sat in for Senator Richard Codey on the committee and although there was some indecisiveness, Sweeney supported all four bills.
The first bill under consideration would allow apprentice licenses to be used by hunters as young as 14 to join a licensed hunter in the field without having to pass a hunter safety test. Opponents to this feel allowing inexperienced hunters in the field with guns would be very unsafe. Where supporters argue this would get more people who are interested in hunting a chance to experience the sport without having to buy a full license. A bill identical to this one has made it to the Assembly, but hasn't yet advanced.
The second bill currently being evaluated would allow firearm hunting to take place on Sundays. New Jersey hunting already allows bowhunting on Sundays, and supporters feel this would give working firearm hunters one more day over the weekend to get into the field. Those opposed say the current ban allows hikers one day to get into the mountains without the worry of running into a hunter. This measure has not yet been introduced to the Assembly.
The third bill presented to the committee would allow bowhunting on federal military installations on Sundays. Supporters feel this is merely a technical bill since bowhunting is currently allowed on Sundays under New Jersey hunting law. Those opposed argue this creates a national security threat. This bill has already passed in an Assembly committee.
The fourth bill being considered by the committee would allow regulators to set limits on how many people can receive licenses to trap beavers. Currently, the limit is set at 200 permits. Supporters of the bill claim beaver populations are strong, and in some cases too strong as they are harming surrounding environment. Supporters also claim that the lottery-style drawing of the permits doesn't put trappers in areas where beavers are an issue, and neglects areas that need population control. Opponents to this bill feel that destructive beaver populations can be dealt with effectively without killing them. A bill identical to this one has made it to the Assembly, but hasn't advanced.
More on New Jersey hunting here.