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NJ Hunters Suspicious of Any Poll That Shows People Don’t Like Bear Hunting

The Humane Society released a poll Sunday showing that a plurality (45%) of New Jersey residents oppose the bear hunt the state just approved for this winter. Expect a backlash of hunters who don’t believe it, but the survey isn’t a fluke: it shows the long-term decline of the popularity of hunting.

Bear on logsThe survey by Mason-Dixon Polling & Research, Inc. that showed 45% of voters oppose the hunt versus 35% supporting it, with 4% margin of error. I would’ve like to see more than 635 people polled, but it’s still random. And it shows the growing discomfort with hunting bears just for fun. Public opinion has shifted–ever so slightly–against hunting since a similar 2004 poll by Fairly Dickinson University. That survey 44%  of NJ residents disapproves a hunt and 41% approved.  They polled 701 voters and had a margin of error of 4%.

As I’ve pointed out before, NJOA tells its members that “there are 650,000 of us, which is approximately 15% of all voters.” They’re counting people who hunt OR fish. And then it seems just for good measure doubling their numbers.

The reality is hunting is in decline. The latest National Survey of Hunting, Fishing and Wildlife-Associated Recreational say of 7 million New Jersey residents, only 1% hunt, about 86,000 people hunt, but 23%, or 1.5 million, like to watch wildlife. But state wildlife agencies, funded only by hunting permits, serve hunters almost exclusively. Hunters spend $137 million in New Jersey, but wildlife watchers spent $631 million.

Hunters will point to this 2004 scientific poll, which was paid for by the state, which shows 66 percent of New Jersey residents approve of hunting. It’s by Responsive Management, a real polling group, but one that does pro-hunting and fishing surveys. For example some of their surveys cite as a reason people oppose hunting “perceived (erroneous) damage to wildlife populations and ecosystems.” Yeah, tell that to people who don’t like hunting reintroduced wolves. Their survey was of 400 New Jersey residents and had a margin of error of 4.9%. But that’s not bear hunts, which as everyone knows are more controversial.
 
A poll at NJ.com is now getting all sorts of attention from both sides. Ammoland published a link to aon bear hunting after New Jersey Outdoor Alliance asked them to, fearing that “animal extremists have distributed the link to the poll through their global network.” They hate that “people from all over the world are weighing in on what is a New Jersey issue,” but, hey, hunters, join in.  

NJOA calls the NJ.com poll unscientific, which it totally is. It’s a bunch of self-selected enthusiasts on both sides. We need truly unbiased polls and biology-based decisions, which we’re never going to get with New Jersey’s political wildlife system.

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