N.J. now has 264,748 football fields' worth of wildlife management areas

New Jersey officials said Wednesday that new land acquisitions have tipped the state’s network of wildlife management areas to 350,000 acres for hunting, fishing and animal watching.

That’s the equivalent of 264,748 football fields.

The announcement by Environmental Protection Commissioner Bob Martin said New Jersey has more acres under wildlife management than the state of New York.

New Jersey’s 122 wildlife management areas are overseen by the Division of Fish and Wildlife, which falls under the DEP. Land is purchased under the Green Acres system, funded through bond issues. The sites are maintained through hunting and fishing license sales, as well as waterfowl stamp purchases.

Wildlife management areas are separate from state parks and forests, such as Wharton, Bass River, and Brendan T. Byrne.

The management areas are located throughout the state, and some are less than 10 acres. The largest, the Peaslee Wildlife Management Area in Cumberland County, spans nearly 34,000 acres.

The management areas account for 45 percent of state-owned public open space — and little more than 6 percent of the state’s total land. They were originally established for hunting, trapping and fishing. But their use has expanded.

“Activities such as bird watching, nature photography, cross-country skiing, and hiking are growing in popularity on these lands,” said Division of Fish and Wildlife director Larry Herrighty.

An estimated 794,000 people hunt and fish in the state. An additional 2.4 million watch birds, watch animals, and hike.

A complete list of all New Jersey’s wildlife management areas and their locations and sizes can be found at http://www.njfishandwildlife.com/wmaland.htm.