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The proposed Game Code amendments include the following revisions:

1. Calendar year adjustments are made for all seasons and season dates are included for the 2005-2006, 2006-2007, 2007-2008, 2009-2010 and 2010-2011 hunting and trapping seasons throughout the 2005-2006 Game Code. Inclusion of most season dates through 2010-2011 will allow sportsmen to plan their vacation schedules, minimize the potential for a delayed season opening in the event the regulation adoption process is delayed, and reduce the annual administrative costs of agency rulemaking. Major season dates are based on long time traditions such as opening the regular small game season on the Saturday closest to November 10th and opening the six-day firearm deer season on the second Monday following Thanksgiving Day. See N.J.A.C. 7:25-5.1-5.11, 5.13, 5.15, 5.17-5.20, 5.23, 5.25-5.31, and 5.34.

2. At the request of pheasant hunters in central New Jersey, pheasant hunting zones are eliminated and the statewide, daily bag limit will be two birds of either-sex. Pheasants are a non-native, introduced species in New Jersey. In recent years, resident pheasant populations have declined to a non-viable level due to changes in land use and agricultural practices. Most pheasants harvested in New Jersey are pen-raised birds that are stocked for hunting purposes. A provision is included that would allow the Director to establish experimental study areas with season closures and/or bag limit restrictions. See N.J.A.C. 7:25-5.2.

3. 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. In an effort to reverse this decline in New Jersey, two quail hunting zones are proposed. North of Route 33 where wild quail populations are known to occur, the season will be unchanged except for calendar year adjustments. This area is not part of the historical quail range in New Jersey and almost all birds harvested are stocked, pen raised birds. South of Route 33, the season will end on January 31 and the bag limit is reduced from 7 to 4 birds. The reductions in season length and bag limit will be monitored to determine if there is an impact on the resident quail population. The season length reduction in the southern zone will reduce recreational hunting opportunity for a small number of late season, quail hunters. See N.J.A.C. 7:25-5.3.

4. Ruffed grouse are a native New Jersey species. Although grouse populations are cyclic, their numbers are believed to be in decline in New Jersey in recent years. Reductions in season length and bag limit are proposed at the request of the Skylands Chapter and the Somerset Hills Chapter of the Ruffed Grouse Society. The season will open approximately three weeks later and will end on December 31 instead of the traditional end of small game season on Presidents Day. The daily bag limit will be reduced from 3 to 2 birds. Reduction in season length by approximately 10 weeks will reduce recreational opportunity for grouse hunters. The reduction in bag limit will have almost no impact on hunters because few hunters take more than one bird per hunting trip. See N.J.A.C. 7:25-5.4.

5. Pursuant to the decision of the Supreme Court of New Jersey, a black bear hunting season cannot take place until a comprehensive policy for black bears is completed and approved by the Commissioner, and the Council adopts a State Fish and Game Code consistent with such comprehensive policies. Contingent upon the Commissioner approving a comprehensive policy for black bears at a future date, the Council proposes a black bear hunting season, black bear hunting zones, permit quotas, changes in the permit application process and a change in season closure provisions are proposed. The black bear hunting season will be concurrent with the six-day firearm deer season. Six black bear hunting zones are proposed. Four of the six black bear hunting zones would be open for the season and would have a total quota of 10,000 permits. The season bag limit will remain at one bear and hunting provisions would be unchanged. Permit application and permit requirements are updated and are similar to requirements for turkey and deer. The ending date for receiving permit applications is changed to October 30 and permit applicants who previously completed a black bear hunting seminar may be waived from attending additional seminars. Following the commencement of the season, the Director, after consultation with the Chairman, would have the authority to close the season. See N.J.A.C. 7:25-5.6.

6. At the request of a wheelchair bound hunter a provision is made in the turkey hunting section to grant persons who have a “Permit to Shoot From A Standing Vehicle” their first choice turkey permit. The change was requested so that they could pre-arrange for a second person to take them or assist them in turkey hunting. Permit issuance would not reduce the regular permit quota. There are a total of 188 persons who have been granted permits to shoot from a standing vehicle and could benefit from this provision. See N.J.A.C. 7:25-5.7.

7. A change in the opening date for trapping on State Wildlife Management Areas that are not stocked with pheasants is proposed at the request of The New Jersey Trappers Association, Inc. and the New Jersey Fur Harvesters. The opening date for Wildlife Management Areas, not stocked with pheasants, will be the regular opening dates. The opening date for Wildlife Management Areas that are stocked with pheasant and enumerated in N.J.A.C. 7:25-5.33 will continue to be January 1. The opening date for State Wildlife Management Areas was previously delayed until January 1 to avoid possible conflicts between pheasant and waterfowl hunters, and trappers. Since many new State Wildlife Management Areas have been added to the system that are not stocked with pheasants and waterfowl season dates now vary over a wide range of dates by zone and season, delaying the opening day for all State Wildlife Management Areas is no longer warranted. Opening the trapping seasons on regular opening dates will increase recreational trapping opportunity. Little impact on the furbearer resource is expected. See N.J.A.C. 7:25-5.8, 5.9, 5.10 and 5.11.

8. Minor adjustments are made in beaver permit quotas based on field surveys, nuisance/damage complaint reports and demand for permits. Beaver permit quotas are increased in beaver management Zones 8, 28 and 29 and reduced in beaver management zones 12, 19 and 27. These changes will enhance efforts to manage the beaver population. The total, regular permit-quota remains 186 permits. At the request of trappers, the opening date for the beaver and otter trapping seasons is moved from January 1 to December 26 in order to provide recreational trapping opportunity during the holiday period. The beaver and otter permit application period is moved two weeks earlier to October 1 – 31 in order provide additional time to process permits prior to the earlier season opening. See N.J.A.C. 7:25-5.9 and 5.10.

9. A change in the general trapping regulations has been requested by the New Jersey Trappers Association, Inc. and the New Jersey Fur Harvesters to enhance their ability to catch coyotes. An increase in the size of cable or crucible wire from 3/32 inches to 1/8 inches, an increase in the loop diameter average from 8 inches to twelve inches, and an increase in the maximum distance between the ground level and top of the loop from 18 inches to 24 inches for body gripping restraining snares is proposed. These changes will increase trapping success for coyotes and are consistent with regulations in other states. The change may result in a small increase in the coyote harvest, however impact on the statewide coyote population will be minimal and additional information on the distribution of coyotes may be obtained. N.J.A.C. 7:25-5.11 and 5.12.

10. In anticipation of Federal regulation changes involving the control of Canada geese, applicable sections are changed to include the phrase “or Managed Take Option” immediately following the existing phrase “Conservation Order.” See N.J.A.C. 7:25-5.13.

11. An increase in season length for the special coyote and fox season has been requested by the New Jersey Trappers Association. The opening day of the season will be moved from February 1 to mid-January, providing more than two additional weeks of hunting opportunity. An increase in the maximum fine shot size for the special coyote and fox season was requested by sportsmen. Increasing the maximum shot size from #2 (.15 inches in diameter) to “T” (.20 inches in diameter) fine shot will provide a wider range of shot size options. These changes may provide a small increase in the number of coyotes taken but will have a minimal impact on the statewide coyote population. See N.J.A.C. 7:25-5.19 and 5.23.

12. A section is added that allows for the taking of resident Canada geese or their nests as authorized by the U.S. Department of the Interior, Fish and Wildlife Service. Resident Canada goose populations have increased and become a significant nuisance, public health, pollution and damage problem in New Jersey. Addition of the section codifies the Federal regulations that already provide for the control of resident Canada geese. Wording is also included that may require record keeping if required by Federal regulations. See N.J.A.C. 7:25-5.22.

13. The regulations that allow for the possession of a deer, bear or turkey by someone other than the person who killed said deer, bear or turkey are clarified. The changes specify that possession includes the parts, including the meat, of said animal, and that the date of harvest and legal possession seal number must be included on accompanying tags. See N.J.A.C. 7:25-5.22.

14. No changes in deer management strategies are planned for this year. A deer management strategy of population reduction is continued 64.1 percent of the deer range (39 deer management zones) 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 continued for 34.5 percent of the deer range (20 deer management zones) where deer-human conflicts are minimal and the deer population is within the biological carrying capacity of the land. Deer management Zone 1, representing 1.4 percent of the deer range, has a population increase strategy again for 2005-06. In 2005-06, the deer management strategy will be to decrease the deer population in Zones: 2, 4, 7-19, 22, 25, 26, 28, 30, 31, 34, 36, 38-42, 47, 49-51, 53-55, and 64-67. In 2005-06, the management strategy will be to stabilize the deer population in Zones: 3, 5, 6, 21, 23, 24, 27, 29, 35, 37, 43, 45, 46, 48, 56-59, 61, and 63. Other than calendar year adjustments and minor changes listed in the following sections, no major changes in season’s duration, season dates, bag limits or permit quotas are proposed. See N.J.A.C. 7:25-5.25, 5.26, 5.27, 5.28, 5.29, 5.30 and 5.31.

15. A special youth hunting day is added to the fall bow deer season. The day will be the Saturday before the regular fall bow season begins and the bag limit will be one deer of either sex and any age. Antler point restrictions and the requirement to harvest an antlerless deer first in some zones are waived for the day. Properly licensed youth deer hunters less than 16 years of age may participate under the direct supervision of a non-hunting adult who must possess a proper and valid bow license. The purpose of the youth hunting day is to provide a mentored hunting experience for youth hunters. The impact of the season on the deer resource will be minimal, because daily bow hunter success is low. A special youth firearm deer hunting day was authorized in 2001. Special youth pheasant hunting, turkey and waterfowl hunting days have also been in effect for several years. See N.J.A.C. 7:25-5.25.

16. The deer management zone boundaries for zones 1, 3, 5, 6 and 36 are modified. The Bear Swamp Wildlife Management Area and nearby lands are removed from Zone 5 and added to Zone 1 at the request of area sportsmen who contend that the deer population has been drastically reduced to below the level of most of Zone 5. The sportsmen request that deer numbers in this area be increased to historic levels. The change will put the area into a more conservative season and bag limit format. Hunting season lengths, bag limits and hunting opportunity will be reduced. The developing, eastern portion of Zone 6 and southeastern portion of Zone 3 are added to Zone 36 at the request of municipal officials who want the deer population in this area reduced. The area was previously in a conservative season and bag limit format, and several community based deer management programs have been implemented or are being considered in the area. The Zone 36 season and bag limit format provides for the longest deer seasons and highest bag limits. Hunting opportunity and the deer harvest will be increased. See N.J.A.C. 7:25-5.29.

17. Zone 52 (western portion of U.S. Dept of the Army - Fort Dix Military Reservation) will be re-combined with Zone 37 (eastern portion of Fort Dix) and the permit bow and winter bow seasons will be expanded at the request of the administrative agency. Fort Dix was divided into two Zones in 1986. The expanded bow seasons dates and bag limits will provide additional recreational hunting opportunity and will enhance deer population control efforts in areas where firearm hunting has been restricted or prohibited due to elevated security in recent years. See N.J.A.C. 7:25-5.25, 5.26, 5.28, 5.29 and 5.30.

18. Increases in the permit muzzleloader, shotgun and bow seasons quotas are requested for Lakehurst Naval Air Engineering Station (Zone 53) and Picatinny Arsenal (Zone 54) by the respective administrative agencies. The increased permit quotas will enhance efforts to control the deer population and increase recreational hunting opportunity on these military facilities. See N.J.A.C. 7:25-5.28, 5.29 and 5.30.

19. At the request of the United Bowhunters of New Jersey, a “bank a doe” provision is added to the permit bow deer season that will allow bow hunters to satisfy the requirement for taking an antlerless deer prior to taking an antlered deer in deer management zones 7-15, 36, 40, 41, 49, 50 and 51 during the fall bow deer season. Participating hunters would be required to register their antlerless deer at Division designated check stations during the fall bow season. Hunters meeting the antlerless deer registration requirement would then be allowed to take an antlered deer first during the permit bow season. The change could increase the harvest of antlerless deer and enhance efforts to reduce the deer population in zones where the management goal is deer population reduction. The change could also result in an increase in the number of antlered deer taken during the permit bow season, because hunters would no longer have to wait to take a buck until after taking an antlerless deer. See N.J.A.C. 7:25-5.30.

20. At the request of Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge, the requirement to harvest an antlerless deer before taking an antlered buck, during the concurrent permit muzzleloader and permit shotgun seasons, is deleted. The regulation will be replaced with alternative incentives that will encourage hunters to harvest adult does. See. NJ.A.C. 7:25-5.28, 5.29 and 5.31.

21. The special wildlife management permits section is modified to include hazards posed by wildlife to airport operations and updated to include and codify specific conditions for permits. The changes are based on experience gained in recent years in the administration of wildlife management permits and the conditions required for farmer depredation deer permits. See 7:25-5.32.

22. The special wildlife salvage permit section is modified to require that specimens collected under a permit remain with the education/scientific institutions, if the person authorized to collect and possess specimens on the permit separates from the institution. The change also requires submission of annual reports. See N.J.A.C. 7:25-5.35.

The remaining changes have been made for clarification, correction of typographical errors, change of format without change in text, and for change in calendar year.
 
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