How Close Can Hunters Get to NJ Schools? [AUDIO]
At least a few times in recent months, there have been precautionary lockdowns or shelter-in-place orders implemented in some New Jersey school districts following reports of an alleged gunman or shots fired, only to find out that the concern was simply nearby hunters.
The most recent incident occurred this week at Monroe Township Middle School in Middlesex County, where the school went into lockdown after someone on the second floor of the school heard gunshots. This case had many parents and local residents wondering what the rules are for hunters.
In New Jersey, hunters are not allowed to carry a loaded firearm or hunt within 450 feet of a school building or playground even if the building is not occupied, according to Larry Ragonese, press director of the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection.
"The law is very strict and we haven't had any violations of that law in recent years," Ragonese said. "Hunters who violate the rule would lose their license upon second offense. When it comes to hunting near schools, there is really no leeway given and the state is very clear on that."
Every hunter in New Jersey must be licensed and they must go through a thorough training course, according to Ragonese. During that course, the rules of where you can and cannot hunt are clearly pointed out.
"There are school districts across the state and many of them are within hunting zones and we stress the rules very carefully," Ragonese said. "We are very diligent about that and authorities respond very quickly in the event of any incidents."
Most hunters know exactly where they are. They scout out their location prior to going into the woods.
"It's not like hunters are wandering through the woods with a gun or a bow hoping they encounter something," Ragonese said. "They will scout out an area, they will get themselves in a tree stand. They are very careful about understanding where they are because they're looking to find a site where they can get a deer or a bear or whatever they're hunting for, so they aren't casually wandering around the woods looking for places to shoot."