New Jersey's Animal Welfare Task Force
(from Jersey Coast Anglers Association October 2002 Newsletter)
Friday, September 13, 2002
An open letter to all New Jersey sportsmen and women
In July of this year, Governor James E. McGreevey established an Animal Welfare Task Force in an effort to prevent cruelty to New Jersey’s domestic animals and to address the burgeoning population of homeless animals. When approached by a newspaper reporter who asked him to clarify the purpose of the Task Force, the Governor implied that the Task Force would also address the issue of wildlife management in New Jersey.
Governor McGreevey has recently been in personal contact with me to emphasize that the Animal Welfare Task Force has nothing to do with New Jersey’s wildlife and was created to address domestic animal problems only. He referred me to the Executive Order creating the task force, which relates to domestic animals only and makes no mention of wildlife. He also stated his support of the New Jersey Fish and Game Council and its mandate to conserve wildlife in New Jersey. The Governor assured me that the Task force was not created to stop hunting and fishing, nor is it intended to have an impact on wildlife management in New Jersey. He recognizes that the responsibility to manage all of the wildlife in the state falls under the jurisdiction of the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection’s (DEP) Division of Fish and Wildlife. Governor McGreevey noted that New Jersey’s wildlife is important to him, and to his family, and that he is satisfied with the wildlife management policies implemented by the Division and the Fish and Game Council.
As sportsmen well know, managing New Jersey’s nearly 800 fish and wildlife species is a cooperative responsibility shared between the Fish and Game Council, the DEP’s Division of Fish and Wildlife, and the sporting community. The Fish and Game Council, created by law in 1945, is responsible for adopting a Fish and Game Code for the conservation and protection of New Jersey’s fish and wildlife. It also oversees the “Hunter and Angler” Fund which supports these efforts. The “Hunter and Angler” account is funded by license and permit fees, which finance the conservation and protection of the state’s fish and wildlife resources.
DEP’s Division of Fish and Wildlife is a professional environmental organization, committed to the protection, wise use, and management of the State’s fish and wildlife resources for the benefit of all New Jerseyans. The Division has led the charge in protecting against habitat loss and deterioration, and educating the public on the values and needs of our fish and wildlife resources. The healthy and abundant populations of wildlife such as white-tailed deer, American shad, wild turkey, and recovering populations of osprey, bald eagles, and peregrine falcons in New Jersey are the result of sound wildlife management practices, primarily paid for with the license fees from hunters and anglers. Not only are hunting and fishing acceptable, legal forms of outdoor recreation in the Garden State, but they are an absolute necessity for the proper management and well-being of many of our wildlife populations.
You, the sportsmen and women of this State, are a critical part of this alliance. The cooperative management concept of the Council, Division, and sporting public is much like a 3-legged stool, each supporting the future of fish and wildlife in the Garden State on an equal basis. The weakening of one leg affects the stability of the entire structure.
Future achievements for New Jersey’s fish and wildlife resources will ultimately depend on the strength and stability of this partnership. While the Governor has assured me that he supports the current wildlife management practices of the Division and the charge of the Fish and Game Council, only through your watchful eyes and defense of this system will we be able to continue to conserve the wildlife in New Jersey.
I hope that you will join with me as we continue to conserve and protect the State’s fish and wildlife resources.
George P. Howard, Executive Director
New Jersey Federation of Sportsmen’s Clubs