ASSEMBLY, No. 3939

 

STATE OF NEW JERSEY

 

211th LEGISLATURE

 

INTRODUCED MARCH 14, 2005

 

 

Sponsored by:

Assemblyman ANTHONY CHIAPPONE

District 31 (Hudson)

Assemblyman MICHAEL PANTER

District 12 (Mercer and Monmouth)

Assemblywoman JOAN VOSS

District 38 (Bergen)

 

Co-Sponsored by:

Assemblyman S.Kean

 

 

 

 

SYNOPSIS

    Establishes New Jersey Wildlife Rehabilitation Licensing Study Commission, and temporarily expands scope of "cooperator permit" to include rehabilitation of other kinds of wildlife besides game animals.

 

CURRENT VERSION OF TEXT

    As introduced.

 

(Sponsorship Updated As Of: 11/14/2005)


An Act concerning wildlife rehabilitation and establishing the New Jersey Wildlife Rehabilitation Licensing Study Commission.

 

    Be It Enacted by the Senate and General Assembly of the State of New Jersey:

 

    1. The Legislature finds and declares that wildlife rehabilitators provide a valuable service to the people of New Jersey at no cost to taxpayers; that the availability of wildlife rehabilitators is necessary to protect untrained citizens from contact with injured or orphaned animals carrying infectious or zoonic diseases; that less than one third of those licensed to rehabilitate wildlife in the year 2000 are still available to provide that service today; and that the precipitous decline in licensed wildlife rehabilitators must be addressed as soon as possible in order to protect the State’s interest in animal welfare and avoid the potential health risks associated with infectious and zoonic diseases.

    The Legislature therefore determines that it is appropriate and necessary to establish a commission to study and evaluate, and develop recommendations relating to, the most effective means to increase and maintain the number of licensed wildlife rehabilitators in a manner that will provide adequate wildlife rehabilitation services in all areas of the State; and that action must be taken immediately to ensure that a sufficient number of 2005 wildlife rehabilitator permits are issued before the Spring 2005 season, when the public is most likely to next come into contact with injured or orphaned wildlife.

 

    2. As used in this act:

    "Commission" means the New Jersey Wildlife Rehabilitation Licensing Study Commission established pursuant to section 3 of this act;

    "Cooperator permit" means a license or permit issued by the State authorizing the holder to rear orphaned juvenile game mammals and game birds and rehabilitate injured game mammals and game birds with the intention of releasing the animals into the wild at the appropriate time;

    "Wildlife" means any animal other than a domestic companion animal as defined pursuant to section 1 of P.L.1995, c.145 (C.4:19A-16); and

    "Wildlife rehabilitator" means a person who has received a license or permit issued by the State authorizing the holder to rear orphaned juvenile wildlife and rehabilitate injured wildlife with the intention of releasing the animals into the wild at the appropriate time.

 

    3. a. There is established the New Jersey Wildlife Rehabilitation Licensing Study Commission. The purpose of the commission shall be to study and evaluate, and develop recommendations relating to, the most effective means to increase and maintain the number of licensed wildlife rehabilitators in a manner that will provide adequate wildlife rehabilitation services in all areas of the State, which shall include, but need not be limited to:

    (1) consideration of whether to transfer the responsibility for licensure and regulation of wildlife rehabilitators under the jurisdiction of the Division of Fish and Wildlife in the Department of Environmental Protection to another agency of State government; and

    (2) specific measures to encourage those individuals formally licensed as wildlife rehabilitators to resume the provision of wildlife rehabilitation services in the State, including, but not limited to, clear and consistent standards for licensing, increased length of the licensing period, and consideration of costs incurred by a wildlife rehabilitator in seeking and maintaining a license.

    b. The commission shall consist of eight voting members, as follows:

    (1) the Commissioner of Health and Senior Services and the Commissioner Environmental Protection, or their designees, who shall serve ex officio; and

    (2) six members of the public, of whom: two shall be wildlife rehabilitators, one appointed upon the recommendation of the New Jersey Association of Wildlife Rehabbers and the other upon the recommendation of the Garden State Wildlife Rehabilitator’s Cooperative; two shall be animal welfare advocates, one appointed upon the recommendation of the Associated Humane Societies, and the other upon the recommendation of the Humane Society of the United States; one shall be a health officer appointed upon the recommendation of the New Jersey Health Officers Association; and one shall be a State-licensed veterinarian appointed upon the recommendation of the New Jersey Veterinary Medical Association.

    c. The six public members of the commission shall be appointed by the Governor within 30 days after the date of enactment of this act. The commission shall organize as soon as practicable, but no later than the 30th day after the appointment of its members, and shall select a chairperson and vice-chairperson from among the members.

    d. The commission shall meet at the call of its chairperson or a majority of its membership, and may hold hearings at the times and in the places it may deem appropriate and necessary to fulfill its charge.

    e. A majority of the membership of the commission shall constitute a quorum for the transaction of commission business. Action may be taken and motions and resolutions adopted by the commission at any meeting thereof by the affirmative vote of a majority of the membership of the commission.

    f. Members of the commission shall serve without compensation, but the commission may, within the limits of funds appropriated or otherwise made available to it, reimburse its members for actual and necessary expenses incurred in the discharge of their official duties.    g.    The commission, within the limits of funds appropriated or otherwise made available to it, may employ such staff or experts and incur such traveling and other miscellaneous expenses as it may deem necessary in order to perform its duties pursuant to this act.

    h. The commission shall be entitled to call to its assistance, and avail itself of the services of, the employees of any State, county, or municipal department, board, bureau, authority, commission, or agency as it may require and as may be available for its purposes.

    i. The commission shall report its findings and conclusions, together with any recommendations for legislative, administrative, or private sector action, to the Governor and the Legislature within two years after the date of its initial meeting. Copies of the report shall also be made available to the public upon request at no charge or for a fee not to exceed the cost of reproduction.

    j. The commission shall expire on the 120th day after the transmittal of its report to the Governor and the Legislature.

 

    4. a. Any person who possesses or has possessed a cooperator permit issued or renewed by the Division of Fish and Wildlife in the Department of Environmental Protection on or after December 31, 2002 shall be deemed by the State to be licensed as a wildlife rehabilitator until such time as the appropriate State agency is reasonably able to act based upon the findings, conclusions, and recommendations of the commission, unless the person violates any law, rule, or regulation pertaining to wildlife rehabilitation.

    b. Nothing in this section shall be construed to authorize any person to operate a wildlife rehabilitation facility in violation of any State or local health code or law or without any necessary federal permit.

 

    5. This act shall take effect immediately.

 

 

STATEMENT

 

    This bill would establish the New Jersey Wildlife Rehabilitation Licensing Study Commission. The purpose of the commission would be to study and evaluate, and develop recommendations relating to, the most effective means to increase and maintain the number of licensed wildlife rehabilitators in a manner that will provide adequate wildlife rehabilitation services in all areas of the State. The study would include, but need not be limited to:

    (1) consideration of whether to transfer the responsibility for licensure and regulation of wildlife rehabilitators under the jurisdiction of the Division of Fish and Wildlife in the Department of Environmental Protection to another agency of State government; and

    (2) specific measures to encourage those individuals formally licensed as wildlife rehabilitators to resume the provision of wildlife rehabilitation services in the State, including, but not limited to, clear and consistent standards for licensing, increased length of the licensing period, and consideration of costs incurred by a wildlife rehabilitator in seeking and maintaining a license.

    The study commission would consist of eight voting members, as follows:

    (1) the Commissioner of Health and Senior Services and the Commissioner Environmental Protection, or their designees, who would serve ex officio; and

    (2) six members of the public appointed by the Governor, of whom: two would be wildlife rehabilitators, one appointed upon the recommendation of the New Jersey Association of Wildlife Rehabbers and the other upon the recommendation of the Garden State Wildlife Rehabilitator’s Cooperative; two would be animal welfare advocates, one appointed upon the recommendation of the Associated Humane Societies, and the other upon the recommendation of the Humane Society of the United States; one would be a health officer appointed upon the recommendation of the New Jersey Health Officers Association; and one would be a State-licensed veterinarian appointed upon the recommendation of the New Jersey Veterinary Medical Association.

    The study commission would expire on the 120th day after transmittal of its report to the Governor and the Legislature.

    The bill would also expand, temporarily at least, the scope of the current "cooperator permit" for rehabilitating orphaned or injured game animals to allow the permittee to rehabilitate nongame wildlife as well.