2021 was not a good year for advances in animal protection legislation in New Jersey, hopefully 2022 will be different.

When I was in the State Senate, I was optimistic New Jersey would be “The Humane State.” While we’ve made some progress to achieve that distinction, (Nosey’s Law banning exotic animals from circus performances; banning the sale of ivory products and rhino horns; banning transportation of horses to slaughter houses; banning transportation of  “trophies” of endangered species; banning shark finning; increasing penalties for dog and cock fighting; banning animal testing for new cosmetics; pause in bear hunts), we had many setbacks as a result of Governor Christie’s veto of animal protection legislation I sponsored (Ban on Gestation Crates, Puppy Mills, and Exotic Animals in circuses) and in 2021 legislation which failed to get support in either the Senate and Assembly or just passed the Senate. 

animal protection

Starting with the good news of the 2020-2001 legislative session, Governor Murphy declared last year there would be no bear hunts while he’s Governor, fulfilling a campaign promise. But to make his promise stick, the Legislature must pass bear friendly legislation which establishes a non lethal bear management policy including requiring bear resistant trash cans in bear country municipalities. 

Bear attacks are extremely rare in New Jersey, “ A 22-year-old Rutgers University student was killed by a bear while hiking in West Milford in 2014, a death experts called a “one in a million” incident. That was the first documented fatality from a bear in New Jersey history, according to wildlife officials.”

Read: 81 year old Woman says was Attacked by a Bear Outside of NJ Home

A recent bear killing of a dog has prompted a resumption of bear hunts, NJ Bear Attacks Inevitable Under Current Policies Humane bear management is a requisite to bears living in harmony with humans. Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner LaTourette has committed to putting in place a nonlethal bear management policy. 

Governor Murphy also signed legislation banning the sale of any new products developed using testing on animals.

New Jersey already bans testing on animals for cosmetics development. By banning the sale of any new animal tested cosmetics this legislation reaches beyond the borders of New Jersey to cosmetics produced in any state that allows animal testing for cosmetics development. 

animal testing

Now the bad news, and there’s plenty of it.

These victories for animals were eclipsed by losses in getting these animal friendly bills passed by both the Senate and Assembly: 

  1. Cost of Care which requires  defendants in animal cruelty cases to pay for the cost of care of the animal they abused. 
  2. Banning gestation crates and confinement of calves. 
  3. Banning “killing contests”. 
  4. Banning products containing kangaroo skin (millions of kangaroos and their jollies (babies) are killed every year to produce soccer shoes). 
  5. Establishing a Trap, Neuter, Vaccinate and Return program for feral cats (Community Cats). 
  6. Banning sale of dogs from Puppy Mills. 

Legislation creating a Courtroom Animal Advocacy Program (CAAP) to have an animal advocate in animal cruelty cases unanimously passed the Senate but stalled in the Assembly as did Cost of Care legislation. Speaker Coughlin has committed to giving both consideration in the new legislative session which began on January 13th. 

At the local level municipalities failed to adopt non lethal deer management policies resorting exclusively to shotguns and bows and arrows to “manage” deer populations. A few tried but were stopped by the Fish and Game Council, a state agency dominated by hunting interests. A ban on leghold traps was signed into law years ago, but the notorious Fish and Game Council got around it by authorizing similarly cruel and dangerous traps not contemplated by the law. Legislative attempts to include these new traps failed to move in the Legislature. 

We have a lot of work to do to pass animal friendly laws in New Jersey at the state and local level.

We’ve done it before. We can do it again. We will do it again. Making New Jersey The Humane State requires our commitment and dedication. 

“A dream doesn’t become reality through magic; it takes sweat, determination and hard work.” Colin Powell