On Monday the New Jersey Senate Environment and Energy Committee approved four bills that would greatly enhance hunting opportunities in the state. According to NJ.com, the bills approved by the committee include legislation that would increase the state’s limit on beaver trapping licenses, allow bowhunting at military installations, create new apprentice hunting licenses for minors, and repeal the state’s ban on Sunday hunting.
“I’ve heard from many constituents who work long hours Mondays through Fridays or Mondays through Saturdays, to support their families, and they’re looking for a way to hunt here on their day off,” Senator Joe Kyrillos (R-Monmonth), who sponsored the bill to lift the ban on Sunday hunting, told The Express-Times. “New Jersey’s Sunday hunting ban prevents a lot of hard-working people from being able to hunt or forces them on their day off to travel to other states to hunt and otherwise spend their money.”
Under current New Jersey law, hunters are prohibited from hunting certain game with firearms on Sunday, although bowhunting is allowed on private property and public land. Supporters of Kyrillos’s bill say that hunters who work all week should have the full weekend to harvest game, and that the ban is unconstitutional.
The most contentious bill (at least, according to animal rights groups) is the one expanding beaver hunting in the state. Supporters of the bill say that increasing the number of beaver trapping permits from 200 will help manage a rapidly increasing population, especially in areas where the critters are left unchecked. Currently permits are awarded through a lottery system that does not always result in traps being set in beaver-dense areas. An excess of beavers can cause flooding and other environmental damages.
The bills now head for the Senate, the Assembly, and, if passed, to the desk of Governor Chris Christie.