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New Jersey to Ban Import and Possession of CITES Trophies

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has issued a conditional veto on two bills that will make the importation and possession of CITES species by New Jersey residents illegal. The original bills are being amended but are expected to be approved and made effective by May 26.

In their original drafts, New Jersey Senate Bill 977 would prohibit transport, possession, import, export and sale of Big Five species, and Senate Bill 978 would prohibit possession and transport of Big Five species at Port Authority of NY and NJ airports and facilities.

Christie’s veto would still allow for the transport, import and export of Big Five species in New Jersey that are not remaining in the state, but prohibit possession of trophies staying in New Jersey. Hunters who already have such trophies will be able to keep them without having to register them with the Department of Environment, as required under the original bills. Christie’s veto also removes Cape buffalo from the list of prohibited species.

In his letter to the NY Senate on each bill, Christie says, “Importantly, with my amendments, these bills prospectively would prohibit a person from importing parts of covered species (including the African lion) and keeping them in our State. Of course, no state legislation could ever by itself outlaw trophy hunts conducted overseas. There are significant questions whether such bans help or actually hurt wildlife conservation. If these bills are returned to me as I propose, however, we can be confident that the body parts of endangered animals will no longer be welcome in New Jersey.”

The two bills were written by Senator Raymond Lesniak. In the Assembly they were sponsored by Assemblyman Tim Eustace. In a statement on the conditional veto Lesniak said, “The governor’s conditional vetoes have only minor conditions that do not impair the effectiveness of the legalization…. Those violating the law will be subject to severe criminal and civil penalties.”

New Jersey sportsmen who have pending shipments of these species or have booked safaris for these species should immediately contact John J. Jackson, III, of Conservation Force for assistance. The Hunting Report urges all hunters to support Conservation Force now in its efforts to counter such legal maneuvers by the anti-hunting interest groups. Call 504-837-1233 or visit their newly redesigned website at

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