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March 5, 2002


For more information contact:
Larry Herrighty at 609-292-6685

The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection's Division of Fish and Wildlife has announced the Fish and Game Council's proposed changes to the 2002-03 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.

"Sportsmen and women are encouraged to review and comment on the proposed amendments to help shape the future of wildlife management in New Jersey," said Fish and Game Council Chairman John Bradway.

The Fish and Game Council will hold a public hearing regarding the proposed changes on Thursday, May 9 beginning at 7 p.m. at Mercer County Community College, West Windsor Campus, College Communications Building, Room 110, 1200 Old Trenton Road, West Windsor. Copies of the proposals will be available for review at the Division's main and regional offices after April 15. In addition, interested individuals may obtain a copy of the proposed amendments by sending a business-sized, self-addressed, stamped envelope (for 66-cents) to: Game Code, NJ Division of Fish and Wildlife, P.O. Box 400, Trenton, NJ 08625-0400. Written comments regarding the proposed changes may be submitted to Division Director Bob McDowell at the above address from April 15 through May 15. Many of the current proposals focus on managing New Jersey's white-tailed deer population. In those zones where significant agricultural damage continues, the Division will continue to apply a management strategy to reduce the antlerless deer population.

"The Council and Division believe that Earn-a-Buck requirements, though unpopular, are working to decrease the deer herds in agricultural and suburban zones," said Division Director Bob McDowell. "Relaxing the Earn-a-Buck requirements after the firearm buck season will offer more opportunity to those hunters who have not bagged a buck without affecting our overall goal of herd reduction."

"In addition, allowing bow hunters to take a buck immediately after harvesting an antlerless deer in the early portion of the fall bow season will reward those hunters who have contributed to reducing the population in these zones," he added.

A summary of significant proposed amendments to the 2002-03 Game Code follows. The proposed changes will also be included in the April 15, New Jersey Register.

1. Hunters will be prohibited from purchasing more than one all-around sportsman license, or one bow and arrow and one firearm hunting license per calendar year.

2. Regulations regarding special youth pheasant, wild turkey and deer hunting days are modified to clarify the provisions and specify the direct supervision of youth hunters by a properly licensed, non-hunting adult.

3. Spring and fall turkey hunting season dates are proposed for the next four years. Inclusion of traditional season dates for several years will eliminate annual calendar year adjustments and will allow sportsmen and women to plan vacations in advance. Zone 21 will be open for the fall season beginning in 2003 with 100 permits available. No other major changes are proposed.

4. Beaver and otter trapping season dates are provided for the years 2003 through 2006. The seasons are traditionally held from January 1 through February 9. No changes in permit quotas or bag limits are proposed.

5. Migratory bird hunting seasons are modified to allow for a "Conservation Order" involving control of snow geese anticipated to be authorized by the U.S. Department of the Interior, Fish and Wildlife Service. The changes, if authorized by the Fish and Wildlife Service, only apply outside the regular migratory bird hunting season and to snow geese.

6. At the request of the agricultural community, the fall woodchuck hunting season is expanded by approximately six weeks and will begin with the ruffed grouse and gray squirrel seasons.

7. Red fox and gray fox are added to the special coyote hunting season and may be taken under the special coyote hunting provisions. Foxes may already be hunted during the time period. Red and gray fox are also added to the list of species that may be controlled by lawful means subject to state and local regulations by property owners, occupants of dwellings and farmers when these species cause damage or destroy livestock, crops or poultry.

8. Nonprofit organizations such as volunteer fire companies and conservation associations may conduct wild game and venison dinners as social and fund raising events. The game and/or furbearer meat, the sale of which is otherwise prohibited, must be harvested, stored and processed in accordance with applicable state, county and local laws and regulations.

9. The pelt including the tail of Eastern gray squirrel may be sold from animals harvested during the regular squirrel season.

10. Persons may collect and possess naturally shed deer antlers.

11. Application procedures and criteria for physically-challenged persons to apply for permits to hunt from motor vehicles and use alternative methods of taking game are revised and clarified. Provisions are also included for revocation of the permits when individuals violate fish and wildlife laws and regulations or falsify their applications.

12. "Buck Stub" provisions are added to the deer hunting regulations and the potential annual bag limit for bucks is reduced from seven (7) to six (6) bucks per year. Hunters must detach, initial, and date the applicable season buck stub and submit it with the deer transportation tag when the deer is registered at a check station. This change is made to more equitably distribute the antlered buck harvest among bow, shotgun and muzzleloader deer hunters and to better regulate the buck harvest.

13. The fall bow deer hunting season dates are provided for 2003-2005 (2002 season dates were previously approved). This change will allow hunters to better plan their vacations and eliminates the need for annual calendar year adjustments. The Fall Bow Season bag limit for Zone 4 is changed from one antlered buck to the standard bag limit of two deer.

14. Earn-a-Buck requirements have been eased for zones 5, 7-14, 36, 41, 50 and 51. During the Early Fall Bow Season (September 7-27) hunters may take an antlered buck after harvesting an antlerless deer. Last year, this early portion of the fall bow season was antlerless only. The Earn-a-Buck requirement no longer applies after the Six-Day Firearm Season.

15. The Winter Bow Season dates are provided for 2003-2006.

16. All regular, bow, shotgun and muzzleloader deer permits will be issued at designated license agents. Only one special deer season permit may be purchased per season for a given zone. Generally, minor adjustments to the permit deer seasons, duration, bag limits and quotas are proposed. One additional day of antlerless only Shotgun and Muzzleloader Permit Season hunting is proposed for zones 5, 7-14, 36, 41, 50 and 51. Reductions in Muzzleloader and Shotgun Permit Season lengths and bag limits are proposed for zones 6, 16, 22, 35 and 48. Increases in Muzzleloader and Shotgun Permit Season lengths are proposed for zones 42, 49, and 55.

17. The portion of Zone 22 above Route 72 (near Manahawkin) will be added to Zone 51. This area is highly developed and more similar to Zone 51. The change will allow more aggressive management of the deer population within the developed area and provide a more conservative approach to deer management in the remaining portion of Zone 22 which includes a significant amount of undeveloped and private land. For example, the Shotgun Permit Season in the remaining Zone 22 will be reduced in duration from 27 days to 7 days.

18. Zone 60, Round Valley Recreation Area, has been eliminated as a special deer management zone. Access to the area will continue to be restricted by a controlled hunting program and deer hunters will be required to have a Zone 12 permit.

Proposed Dates

The proposed season dates, along with the complete 2002-03 proposed Game Code amendments, are available in PDF format. PDF files are viewable and printable with the Adobe Acrobat Reader, available free from Adobe's Web site.

Proposed NJ Hunting Seasons for 2002-2003 (6kb)
Proposed 2002-03 Game Code Amendments (195kb)