As state legislatures gear up for their 2020 sessions, several states will be considering bills that will affect your freedom to hunt. Two states, New Jersey and New Hampshire, have introduced ‘contest ban’ legislation. If passed, these bills can have unintended consequences.
In New Jersey, Assembly Bill 1365 is broadly written legislation that is designed to “prohibit harassing or taking of certain wildlife at competitive events.” The bill establishes penalties for violations.
AB 1365 is sponsored by Assemblymen Benson and Houghtaling and Assemblywoman Murphy. The bill would make it illegal to conduct field trials, hunt tests, etc.
According to the legislation, a “Competitive event" is defined as “any activity, competition, contest, derby, tournament, or other organized activity where participants are encouraged to take wildlife and are rewarded by the receipt of a prize or any kind of inducement or reward.”
The bill also defines “take” as “to hunt, capture, kill, trap, catch, net, possess, or collect, or to attempt to hunt, capture, kill, trap, catch, net, possess, or collect, wildlife.”
The potential penalty is up to 6 months of imprisonment and a fine of up to $1,000.
In New Hampshire, Senate Bill 588 has been introduced by Senators Watters, Kahn, Hennessey, and Feltes.
Following the example of New Jersey, SB 588 is so broadly written that it could have unintended consequences. For example, the legislation would make it illegal for two friends or a group of hunting partners to hold a “big buck contest.”
SB 588 specifically states that:
No person, natural or otherwise, shall organize, promote, solicit participation in, or participate in any contest that results in the taking of fur-bearing animals, game animals, migratory game birds as defined in RSA 209:5, or any other wildlife, except for fish. For the purposes of this section, a "contest" shall mean any organized or sponsored competition among 2 or more participants where prizes of cash, goods, or other inducements are awarded for the taking of non fish wildlife.
Anyone who violates this law will be guilty of a class B misdemeanor.
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