NJOA: Bill to ban deer baiting passes NJ Senate Committee

NOTE: Yesterday, in an act to defy responsible committee oversight and conventional wildlife management methods, a state senator used his position as committee chairman to circumvent the expertise of the Senate Environment and Energy Committee and have an animal rights bill heard in his own committee (Senate Economic Committee) to ensure the bill was passed. Animal rights groups Humane Society United States and NJ Sierra Club are behind the bill. The bill would unilaterally remove deer baiting as a wildlife management tool, potentially throughout New Jersey.
Bill to require bear-proof garbage cans in some areas advances through N.J. Senate committee
By Matt Friedman/The Star-Ledger
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on November 14, 2013 at 2:06 PM, updated November 14, 2013 at 6:03 PM
TRENTON — If you live in bear country, repeatedly leaving an open jar of honey outside would earn you a fine of up to $1,000 under a bill that is advancing through the state Senate.

The Senate Economic Growth and Agriculture Committee today approved the measure (S2369), which would apply not just to Winnie the Pooh’s favorite snack, but any food waste left accessible to bears in areas the animals are known to frequent.

Instead, residents and businesses in high black bear traffic areas would be required to use bear-resistant containers or dumpsters. Public and private campgrounds would have to make the containers available as well. Farms, however, would be exempted.

The bill, which was approved by a vote of 3-2, would also ban baiting bears and deer for hunting in areas with a large bear population.

“We’re not talking about fish,” said state Sen. Raymond Lesniak (D-Union), the committee’s chairman and the bill’s sponsor. “This baiting takes bears and deers out of their natural environment, into the public environment, and not only is a danger to the public but it takes the sport out of it. True hunters don’t need to bait…. Baiting is nothing more than target shooting.”

Bear country residents would only face fines after first receiving a warning. The minimum fine would be $50, and the maximum $1,000.

The committee’s two Republicans, Sens. Steve Oroho (R-Sussex) and Joe Kyrillos (R-Monmouth), voted no.

Anthony Mauro, president of the New Jersey Outdoor Alliance, said that baiting is a tool that can be used to control deer population by wildlife management professionals and should not be taken off the table.

“If professionals feel baiting an animal is a tool necessary to manage deer populations, we see this as a unilateral ban which is not good for forests,” he said. “Then we can’t manage deer properly,” Mauro said. “It’s not good for vehicles collisions, helping control Lyme Disease cases, minimizing landscape damage.”

Mauro also said the bill is not clear on what would be considered areas with big bear populations, noting they’ve been spotted in all 21 counties. He said it would also be an unfunded mandate for rural residents.

“People in these areas will have to buy those expensive screw-off garbage tops. On top of that, waste management companies… are going to have to have someone ride along or spend time unscrewing all those lids,” Mauro said. “And that costs is going to be transferred to those people.”

Twenty-six states ban deer baiting while 18 of the 28 states that allow bear hunting ban baiting them, according to the Animal Protection League.

“Access to garbage and bait changes black bear behavior and foraging habits,” the League said in a press release. “Feeding can lead to food conditioning, habituation to humans, conflicts, and property damage. Feeding, via trash or bait, also leads to increased reproductive rates, physical size and numbers, and reduces bear range.”