Bowhunters in New Jersey are one step closer to expanded hunting opportunities, thanks to senate passage of a law that reduces the minimum hunting distance from buildings from 450 to 150 feet.

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The State Senate Monday overwhelmingly approved a bill that would reduce from 450 feet to 150 feet the distance a bow hunter can be from a private home when shooting at deer. Seven senators voted against S1181, while 25 approved the bill. _Eight senators, including Sen. Anthony Bucco, R-Morris, didn’t vote. Republican Sens. Joseph Pennacchio of Montville, and Steven V. Oroho, of Sparta, one of the bill’s sponsors, both approved it. Bucco could not immediately be reached for comment. The next step is for the full State Assembly to vote on it, which could happen on Thursday, a legislative affairs spokesman said in Trenton on Monday.

Supporters say the shortened distance would help hunters better cull deer that become less accessible as they gravitate toward residential areas, which would cut down the number of deer-car accidents and stop deer from ruining habitats where they graze. Opponents say the change would bring hunters too close to where families live and would increase the potential for danger. A spokesman for Gov. Chris Christie previously said the governor hasn’t taken a position on the legislation, but would act on if it reaches his desk within the required 45-day timeframe. The current 450-foot buffer would remain for hunters with shotguns, and bow hunters still would need to keep 450 feet from school playgrounds, plus shoot arrows only downward from trees, hills or other elevated positions, according to the legislation._

Any bets on if it will pass and become law?