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; 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 96th State Agricultural Convention, assembled in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, on February 8-9, 2011, 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 United States Fish and Wildlife Service 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 sampling with the New Jersey Department of Agriculture as a surveillance measure for High Path Avian Influenza.
- Continue to work with the United States Department of Agriculture, 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 investigate the feasibility of 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.
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 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.
Wildlife and Agriculture
Excessive wildlife represents both economic and natural resource losses to the farmers, livestock owners, homeowners, businesses and the public. In a 1999 report to the Governor on Deer Management in New Jersey, it was illustrated that hunting as a deer control methodology is most effective when used in conjunction with other population control methods, and that additional tools and approaches are needed to deal with the over-abundance of deer. The report proposed recommendations to control excessive deer populations through new management initiatives, legislative actions to provide public funding for additional deer control, deer research, and public education.
This approach is essential to control the populations of not only the white-tailed deer, but also that of black bears, geese, European Starlings, turkeys, and small mammals, whose populations have outgrown the carrying capacity of their natural habitats. The adoption of the Comprehensive Black Bear Management Strategy requires an annual bear hunt as part of an inclusive management of black bears in the state of New Jersey.
Development encroachment into animal habitats has resulted in greater human contact with wild animals and birds, thereby posing a substantial risk of transmission of disease between humans and animals. Wildlife management requires a multidisciplinary and inter-governmental approach that provides sound scientific support for effectively designed and implemented control measures that reach across multiple jurisdictions and constituencies. The agencies committed to wildlife management must achieve greater levels of cooperation with each other to make the most of available resources, streamline the permitting process, and simplify outreach and education so that the general public is made aware of the health and safety, economic, and environmental problems that wildlife pose, and ensure that the programs developed to manage the excessive populations are efficiently and effectively administered.
The USDA and New Jersey Department of Agriculture took the first steps in 2007, achieving a collaborative approach to wildlife management through the development of the Wildlife Memorandum of Understanding and the continued operation of the Wildlife Management Inter-agency Working Group. This initiative continues to bring together the leading officials in wildlife management to work cooperatively to implement action-oriented programs designed to reduce the impact of wildlife on our farms, open space, and communities. The Wildlife Memorandum of Understanding maintains USDA-APHIS Wildlife Services as the implementer of the State’s integrated Canada goose damage management program.
The Fish and Game Council currently is made up of 11 members (six sportsman representatives, three farmer representatives, one member at large, and the chair of the Endangered and Non-Game Species committee) with the mission of implementing: “a system of protection, propagation, increase, control and conservation of freshwater fish, game birds, game animals, and fur-bearing animals in this state, and for their use and development for public recreation and food supply, the council is hereby authorized and empowered to determine under (w)hat circumstances… freshwater fish, game birds, game animals and fur-bearing animals… may be pursued, taken (or) killed… so as to maintain an adequate and proper supply thereof…”
In 2007 the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, Department of Fish and Wildlife and United States Department of Agriculture, Wildlife Services with assistance from the New Jersey Department of Agriculture began a feral swine testing and surveillance program to ascertain the risk and population size of the state’s feral swine population.
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), Veterinary Services (VS), the United States Department of the Interior (USDOI) Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Fisheries have outlined a proposal for a National Aquatic Animal Health Plan (NAAHP) for the United States. The overall objective of the NAAHP is to assist federal and state agencies and aquaculture industries, combat aquatic animal diseases, meet harmonized interstate and international standards and requirements, and assist the growth of United States aquaculture and protect natural resources.
Key elements of the NAAHP include: identifying diseases of regulatory concern; developing and validating appropriate laboratory diagnostic assays within a National Aquatic Diagnostic Laboratory Network; and, prevention, control and eradication measures for these diseases. An important component of the NAAHP is the National Advisory Committee for Aquatic Animal Health to provide the opportunity for input from all stakeholders, including representatives from wildlife, agriculture and animal health agencies, the aquaculture industry, veterinary and other fish health experts, and the federal partners.