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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.
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.
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.
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.