Fish and Game is a state agency that is part of the NJ Department of Environmental Protection. The salaries of Fish and Game employees are paid for by the sale of hunting licenses. This creates a conflict of interest as the state agency that should be protecting wildlife instead profits from their slaughter.
The following financial statement comes from Fish and Games' 1997 annual report. As can be seen, Fish and Game must sell more than $11,00,000 worth of hunting licenses just to cover their salaries and benefits:
Employee benefits: $2,550,871
Materials and Supplies $1,248,506
Rent and Maintenance of Equipment $513,884
Vehicular Maintenance $262,609
Vehicular Equipment $249,541
Other Equipment $56,134
Indirect Costs and Interests $228,362
Publications and Recovery $43,995
*Note that no money from hunting license fees goes to buying and saving land, a claim often made by hunters.
The Fish and Game Council is an 11 member board that has the following statutory authority: "The council is hearby authorized and empowered to determine under what circumstances, when and in what amounts and numbers such fresh water fish, game birds, game animals, and furbearing animals, or any of them, may be pursued, taken, killed or had in possession as to maintain an adequate and proper supply thereof."
The Council is directed to manage wildlife "for their use and development for public recreation and food supply."
Of the 11 members of the Council, six are hunters, who are recommended by the NJ Federation of Sportsmen, three are farmers, who are recommended by the agriculture community, one is the chair of the Endangered and Non-Game species committee and the last is the 'public' representative to the council. All members of the Council support hunting,
While you may think that the 'public' representative might have views consistent with the general public, think again, At the Aug. 13, 1996 Fish and Game Council meeting, Fish and Game Director Robert McDowell referred to the then newly appointed 'public' member as a "Bowhunter whose tree-stand is in his bedroom."
After a major campaign against the Council in 2000, a non-hunter was appointed by the Governor and now holds the public member seat on the Council. However, this is only a small step towards breaking the iron grip that the hunting communtiy has over all over wild animals. One orgainzation, the Ferderation of Sportsmen, still holds the majority vote.
The sad truth is that there is no real voice for the 98.7%, or 7,900,000 people in our state who do not hunt.
The 'Game Code' is the official document in which all of the hunting and trapping seasons are set. Each year the Council votes on amendments to the Game Code. These changes can range from allowing new species, such as coyotes or bears, to be hunted, or changing the number of animals that a hunter is allowed to kill in a day. The Game Code, as it has been established, was formulated to provide recreational killing for hunters. Each year the Council adds more amendments that creates more recreational killing.
The following is an example of how much recreational killing is added to the Game Code in just one year:
From the 1997-98 proposed amendments to the Game Code:
Amendment 16: "The change will also increase recreational opportunity for bow hunters."
Amendment 17: "The change will increase recreational opportunity for bow hunters."
Amendment 18: "The change will also enhance recreational opportunity for bow hunters."
Amendment 20: "...for the purpose of providing recreational opportunity to the traditional muzzleloader hunter."
Amendment 25: "These changes will also provide increased recreational opportunity for the shotgun deer hunter."
Amendment 27: "The change will also increase recreational hunting opportunity for shotgun hunters."
Amendment 30: "Additional recreational opportunity for bow hunters will also be provided."
Contrary to popular belief, not only is hunting unnecessary, but it is all done for recreational purposes. Fish and Game and the Fish and Game Councils' mandate to create recreational hunting is clear. Although they make public statements to the contrary, their own records and reports show how blatantly recreational their hunting is.
Here are some examples:
Under Fish and Games' reign NJ's black bears
were hunted to the point of near extinction. Only a pitiful 10
bears survived their 'management'. Now, after needing more than
30 years to recover, black bears are being threatened with hunting
again. From Fish and Games' NJ Black Bear Management Plan it states:
"Re-establish a hunting season for black bear to provide recreational opportunity for the sporting public..."
When Fish and Game wanted to open up a coyote hunting season, they were very clear why they wanted to do this. From the NJ Register, Aug 19, 1996:
"The proposed hunting season will allow for increased recreational use of the coyote resource by New Jersey sportsmen and women."
Fish and Game operates a pheasant breeding farm where every year more than 50,000 pheasants are bred. These poor creatures spend most of their lives in small cages and then are thrown onto fields, to be killed the next day by hunters seeking 'sport'.
In the NJ Register, Aug. 4, 1997 they state:
"The current program (pheasant breeding) is strictly 'put and take' to supplement wild populations in order to provide recreational pheasant hunting..."
Fish and Game director Robert McDowell wrote the following in the "State of the N.J. Division of Fish, Game and Wildlife":
"The Division will continue to explore ways to increase recreational opportunity for deer, wild turkey, waterfowl, upland game and furbearers, as well as to expand youth hunting programs."
What Can Be Done to Stop
When Robert McDowell, the Director of Fish and Game, was contacted and told him of the opposition to the coyote hunting season, he replied with the following:
"There have been substantial efforts in the past by the national animal rights/welfare groups to challenge the authority of the Council. They were unsuccessful. You, of course, always have the option to contact legislative representatives on this and any issue you feel requires redress,"
The time has come when the legislators of our state must hear from those who are against cruelty to animals, and who demand and end to the tyranny of the Division of Fish, Game and Wildlife, and the Fish and Game Council.
When enough people take a stand for the hunted animals, the brutality and suffering will stop.