New Jersey Hunter Safety Course


Wildlife Conservation and Hunting Laws

Unlike oil, coal, or other non-renewable resources, wildlife is considered a renewable resource - meaning that it is a resource which can restock itself as long as it is not completely depleted.

The short and simple definition of conservation is "using natural resources wisely". Hunters are a very important group in establishing and driving wildlife conservation throughout North America. Regulated sport hunting does not endanger wildlife. In fact, hunting regulations were created in the late 1800's after many hunters realized that wildlife was threatened by commercial hunting practices. Due to their persistence in establishing and respecting hunting laws, no North American game animal has ever become extinct because of regulated hunting.

There are many reasons why hunting laws exist today. Hunting is a privilege, not a right; and that privilege can be revoked if a hunter does not adhere to hunting laws. The following are the four key reasons for the existence of hunting laws.

Protection of others

This is the most obvious reason why hunting laws are a necessity. As an example of a law designed for the protection of others, most hunters today are required by law to take a hunter education course before they can legally hunt. Through hunter education, we learn how to become safer hunters, and how to minimize the chances of hunting incidents.

Due to the success of hunter education, hunting is considered one of the safest outdoor sports today. Hunting incidents occur far less often than in other sports, such as football, baseball, fishing or bicycling.

Protection of wildlife

Laws and regulations that restrict hunting seasons, for example, protect wildlife by ensuring that no animal can be hunted during a time that would be detrimental to the wildlife population.

Seasons and bag limits are determined each year by the NJ Fish & Game Council.

Fair Chase

The rules of fair chase dictate how an animal may be harvested, to help level the playing field between the hunter and the game. For example, there are very strict restrictions on the use of lures by hunters. The advantage must be given to the animal - game must have a chance to get away.

Fair Distribution

Regulations such as bag limits, possession limits, and different seasons for the types of firearms used help ensure that every hunter will have a chance to harvest wildlife.

The New Jersey Fish & Game Council is responsible for establishing and enforcing wildlife regulations. The New Jersey Fish and Wildlife Digest has an annual publication which contains a summary of these regulations, and is available every year at the end of August. If you have any questions regarding NJ's Fish and Wildlife Laws, contact your regional NJFW Bureau of Law Enforcement office.

Click here to access the New Jersey Fish and Wildlife Digest.