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COUNCIL APPROVES CHANGES TO 2003-04 GAME CODE

July 9, 2003

The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection's Division of Fish and Wildlife announced the Fish and Game Council's approved changes to the 2003-04 Game Code. The Fish and Game Council is responsible for adopting annual revisions to the Game Code including season dates, bag limits, permit quotas, hunting procedures and other hunting and trapping regulation changes. First proposed in April, the changes were adopted at yesterday's Fish and Game Council meeting after considering public review and comment.

A summary of significant changes to the 2003-04 Game Code follows. Hunters should refer to the August hunting issue of the New Jersey Fish and Wildlife Digest when available for additional information.

White-tailed Deer

Overall Strategies: This year, a deer management strategy of population reduction is planned for 54.8 percent of the deer range in order to lessen economic losses associated with deer damage to landscape plantings or gardens, agricultural crops and deer/vehicle collisions. A deer management strategy of deer population stabilization is planned for 45.2 percent of the deer range where deer-human conflicts are minimal and the deer population is within the biological carrying capacity of the land. There are no deer management zones with a population increase strategy for the current year. The deer hunting season's duration, season dates, bag limits and permit quotas are adjusted where necessary to achieve the zone management strategies, while maximizing the recreational and economic benefits of the state's renewable deer resource. The number of regulation sets for regular deer management zones was reduced from eight to six sets in a continuing effort to simplify the regulations.

Fall Bow: Deer Management Zones 2, 5, 16, 17, 19, 22, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 31, 35, 47, 48 and 63 are moved from the standard season format to the extended season format at the request of sportsmen. These zones have an unlimited antlerless deer bag limit and the change is consistent with the deer management objectives. Zone 57, the central portion of the Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge, is opened with the extended season format at the request of the Refuge. The bag limit in Zone 16 has changed from the standard bag limit of two deer to one antlered and an unlimited number of antlerless deer. The bag limit for the early portion of the extended fall bow season is changed to require that an antlerless deer be taken first in zones 2, 5, 16, 17, 19, 22, 25-29, 31, 35, 47, 48, 57 and 63. Zone 5 is removed from the list of zones with an Earn-a-Buck requirement for the entire season, because the deer population has been successfully reduced and the restriction is no longer necessary. Zones 15 and 49 are added to the list of zones with an Earn-a-Buck requirement for the entire season in order to increase the antlerless deer harvest, attain long term population reduction goals and to reduce the number of regulation sets. Zone 6 is added and Zone 16 is deleted to the list of zones where hunters may not hunt after taking a second deer during the season.

Permit Bow: The bag limit for Zone 16 is increased from two deer to unlimited deer. Zones 2, 5, 16, 17, 19, 22, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 31, 35, 47, 48 and 63 are moved from the standard season format to the extended season format. The permit quota for Zone 61 (Atlantic County Park System) was increased from 30 to 40 permits at the request of the administrative agency.

Winter Bow: Zones 5 and 42 are deleted from the extended winter bow season format and will be included in the standard season format. Zone 15 is added to the list of zones with an extended season format. The bag limit in Zone 16 is changed from the standard two deer limit to one antlered and an unlimited number of antlerless deer.

Permit Muzzleloader: The bag limit for Zone 16 is changed from the standard limit of two deer to one antlered deer and an unlimited number of antlerless deer. The bag limits in zones 17, 19 and 48 are changed to allow for the taking of two deer at a time in order to increase the antlerless deer harvest. In zones 38 (Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge), 40 (Earle Naval Weapons Station - Waterfront Section) and 67 (High Point State Park), an antlerless deer be taken before an antlered deer throughout the season. The season length is increased as follows: 9 to 13 days in Zone 4; 21 to 46 days in zones 17, 19 and 48; 43 to 63 days in Zone 15; and 58 to 63 days in Zone 49. The season length in Zones 5 is reduced from 62 to 46 days.

Permit Shotgun: Permit shotgun deer season section bag limits and season lengths are modified based on the number of antlerless deer available and changes in deer management strategies for some zones. The bag limit is decreased from two to one deer and the season length is decreased from three days to one day in Zone 1. The season length is decreased from 27 to 10 days in zones 26, 35 and 47; from 37 to 34 days in Zone 25; and from 50 to 34 days in zones 5 and 42. The bag limit is increased from one to two deer and the season length is increased from one day to three days in zones 6 and 65. The bag limit is increased from two deer to unlimited deer and the season length is increased from three to 10 days in Zone 16. The bag limit is increased from one deer to unlimited deer and the season length is increased from one day to 10 days in Zone 53 (Lakehurst Naval Air Engineering Station). The season length is increased from seven to 10 days in zones 2, 22, 27, 28, 29, 31 and 63; from 27 to 34 days in zones 17, 19, 40 and 48; and from 37 to 50 days in Zone 15. The bag is changed from one deer at a time to two deer at a time in zones 17, 19, 48 and 64.

Great Swamp: In the Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge (Zone 38) deer permit shotgun and permit muzzleloader section, season dates and permit quotas are revised. The concurrent season will be 12 days earlier and will be held November 19-22, 2003.

Black Bear

A six-day, black bear, special permit hunting season is approved for the area of New Jersey north of Interstate Route 78 and west of Interstate Route 287 for December 8-13, 2003 with a bag limit of one bear of either sex and any age. Hunting hours will be hour before sunrise until hour after sunset. Black bears may not be taken from dens or within 300 feet of a baited area. Black bears may be taken by stand hunting, still-hunting, or drive hunting with shotgun with rifled slugs or muzzleloader rifle.

A total of 10,000 special black bear hunting permits will be available to properly licensed firearm hunters and a random lottery will be held if the number of applicants exceeds the special permit quota. Interested hunters will apply for the permits no later than September 30, 2003 on forms provided by the Division available at license agents in mid-August and will be required to successfully complete a black bear hunting seminar. All black bears taken must be tagged and taken to a mandatory checking station for registration and issuance of a legal possession tag.

Following the commencement of the season, the Commissioner of DEP or the Director may, after consultation with the Chairman, close the season. The Commissioner or the Director will announce such closure, which will become effective 24 hours from the daily legal closing time of the day on which the decision is made, based upon data obtained and reviewed by the Division.

Wild Turkey

The youth hunting section of the spring wild turkey season is changed to remove the requirement that the supervising adult possess a turkey permit for the zone and hunting period. Supervising adults will continue to be required to possess a valid firearm or bow license, whichever is applicable, and will be required to have a permit if also hunting with a firearm or bow.

Turkey hunting regulations are also modified to limit youth hunters to the same area and hunting period that their permit designates after taking a turkey on their first permit. Youth hunters will continue to be able to hunt during all hunting periods until they harvest their first bird on the permit issued in the initial lottery. Turkey Hunting Areas 2, 3, 4, 10, 12, 13 and 15 descriptions have been updated based on current road descriptions and numbering.

Chukar Partridge

The daily bag limit for chukar partridge is increased from three to seven at the request of sportsmen who want to be able to release and take more than the current daily bag limit on private land. Chukars were brought to the United States from Asia in the late 1800s and are well established in several western states. There is no resident population of chukar partridge in New Jersey. All harvested birds are stocked.

Beaver

The beaver permit bag limit is reduced from 10 to eight beavers. The reduction in bag limit will allow the beaver permit quota to be increased from 137 to 175, while providing a similar level of harvest that is consistent with management objectives. Beaver permit quotas are increased in the following beaver management zones: 1, 3, 4, 5, 7, 10, 11, 13, 19, 21, 23, 24, 25, 28, 29 and 30. One beaver permit will be available for the first time in zones 21 and 23 and will provide the opportunity to control and obtain additional information on the beaver populations in these areas. Beaver permits were also increased in zones 3, 5, 10 and 13 based on surveys of active beaver sites conducted in the fall of 2002.


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