Small Game Season Opens Saturday, November 10
The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Division of Fish and Wildlife reminds hunters that the 2012-13 small game seasons for pheasant, chukar, bobwhite quail, ruffed grouse (south of Route 70) and woodcock (south of Route 70) open at 8:00 AM on Saturday, November 10. Small game seasons seasons for several other species have already opened.
Hunters should review current regulations, season exceptions and bag limits in the 2012-13 issue of the NJ Hunting and Trapping Digest (specifically page 65) for information regarding the specific season (s) they wish to hunt. A summary of small game hunting season information can also be accessed at www.njfishandwildlife.com/pdf/2012/smgame_summary12-13.pdf (pdf, 87kb).
A current and valid hunting license (bow and arrow, firearm or all-around sportsman) is required to pursue any small game species. Properly licensed hunters may hunt small game with shotgun, muzzleloader or bow and arrow (including crossbow). Hunters pursuing pheasants on state Wildlife Management Areas designated as Pheasant and Quail Stamp Areas and/or bobwhite quail on the Peaslee and Greenwood Wildlife Management Areas must also possess a Pheasant and Quail Stamp while hunting.
Firearm hunting is prohibited November 9 on state Wildlife Management Areas designated as Pheasant and Quail Stamp Areas to allow for stocking (except in tidal marshes open to an on-going waterfowl season.).
SMALL GAME SEASON INFORMATION AND UPDATES
Small game species such as coyote, eastern gray squirrel, gray fox, opossum, rabbits, raccoon, red fox and woodchuck remain at healthy population levels throughout New Jersey, and should provide excellent hunting opportunities for Garden State sportsmen and sportswomen.
Division of Fish and Wildlife staff from throughout the state spent considerable time involved with repairs at the Rockport Pheasant Farm due to last year's October snowstorm. During that storm, the facility's range pens collapsed from the weight of the snow, killing 1,500 birds and allowing another 7,000 to escape. This year approximately 44,000 birds are expected to be stocked throughout New Jersey which includes 43,000 for the general small game season and 1,000 for the Take a Kid Hunting Pheasant Hunt to be held on November 3. This is slightly more than the 38,000 put out last year, however, it is still below the 50,000 the agency has successfully raised and released in previous years.
The extreme heat this summer during a critical time in the development of the birds also caused a higher rate of mortality in the brooder houses. The Division of Fish and Wildlife has consulted with the N.J. Dept. of Agriculture, as well as Pennsylvania Game Commission game farm personnel and will be adding additional ventilation and temperature controls to prevent this problem in the future.
Fortunately, operations at the Rockport Pheasant Farm were not adversely affected by Hurricane Sandy. Any variations from normal regarding stocking will be posted on the Small Game Hunting page on the division's website.
Hunters should also note that there is an error in the pheasant stocking schedule (page 64 in the 2012-2013 NJ Hunting and Trapping Digest)) in the dates for the DWGNRA, Heislerville, Howardsville, Mad Horse, Manahawkin, Manasquan, Medford, Stafford Forge, and Winslow Wildlife Management Areas. November 12 should be November 17; the online PDF version is correct at www.njfishandwildlife.com/pdf/2012/pheas-quail_sched12.pdf (pdf, 15kb).
Northern bobwhite quail are native to the southern half of New Jersey. In recent years, quail populations have declined throughout their range including New Jersey. As part of a comprehensive effort to reverse this decline, the Division closed the bobwhite quail season statewide in 2011 except for the Peaslee and Greenwood Wildlife Management Areas where the Division of Fish and Wildlife purchases and releases 11,000 birds in total. Quail may also be pursued at properly licensed semi-wild and commercial shooting preserves. Hunters are reminded that the quail season remains closed except as noted above.
Quail are an integral part of New Jersey's natural landscape and their decline should be of concern to everyone. Therefore, as part of an ongoing educational effort the Division of Fish and Wildlife has posted the updated Bobwhite Basics brochure on its website. Originally published in May 2003, the updated version is a handy reference tool on Habitat Basics, Nesting, Brood Habitat, Fall/Winter Activities, Foods, Management and Bobwhite Facts.
A hard copy of the brochure can be obtained by sending a self-addressed, stamped ($0.44) #10 envelope to NJ Division of Fish & Wildlife, Bobwhite Basics Brochure, PO Box 418, Port Republic, NJ 08241-0418.
For a pdf version, visit www.njfishandwildlife.com/pdf/bobwhitebasics.pdf (pdf, 1.0mb) on the Division's website.
Earlier this year, the Division conducted a survey of Cumberland, Gloucester and Salem county landowners to ascertain current land use practices and preferences. Fifty-nine percent of respondents indicated a willingness to provide habitat for quail; however only 20% said they were willing to convert agricultural production lands into suitable quail habitat, and 39% were unsure. Only 16% of respondents were enrolled in some type of financial assistance program related to habitat.
For a pdf version of survey results, visit www.njfishandwildlife.com/pdf/2012/quail_landower_survey12.pdf (pdf, 230kb) on the Division's website.