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New Jersey Sets Bear Hunt for Six Days in December

November 16, 2005 | Bears
By JOHN HOLL, published in the New York Times on November 16, 2005

New Jersey will hold a six-day hunt next month to reduce the state's bear population after an increase this year in complaints about problem bears. Bradley M. Campbell, the commissioner of the state's Department of Environmental Protection, said a culling is necessary because "communities are fearful for their safety and the safety of their families." He said the state received nearly 1,000 complaints so far this year about bears, which he said was up "significantly" from all of last year, when 756 damage and nuisance complaints were filed.

Two bears were killed in August in Sussex County in northwest New Jersey after one broke into a house and another broke into a shed. And, in another case this year, a camper was awakened by a bear but he was able to scare it away. The state's Fish and Game Council, an independent panel whose members are appointed by the governor, approved a hunt earlier this year, but only Mr. Campbell can schedule the bear hunt. Last year, Mr. Campbell blocked a hunt, saying the state would be better off exploring other management tools such as contraception and public awareness campaigns. The State Supreme Court sided with Mr. Campbell and ruled that a hunt could not be held until a comprehensive plan was approved. Now, with the plan approved, the 4,000 hunters who have applied for permits will have a chance to kill black bears with shotguns from Dec. 5 to Dec. 10, provided they pass a safety course. Mr. Campbell noted that the hunt could be called off early if state biologists determined that too many bears have been killed. Though bears have been sighted in all of New Jersey's 21 counties, the hunt will be limited to a 1,600-square-mile area in the northwestern part of the state north of Interstate 78 and west of Interstate 287. In 2003, 328 bears were killed in the state's first bear hunt in 33 years. Last year, Mr. Campbell called a hunt unnecessary, saying the bear population was about 1,600, though several independent studies estimated that the number was closer to 3,200. Earlier this year Mr. Campbell said the bear population was estimated to be between 2,000 to 3,000. Priscilla Feral, president of Friends of Animals, an animal rights group based in Darien, Conn., said she was disappointed by Mr. Campbell's decision, especially because Governor-elect Jon S. Corzine opposed a hunt. She said she expects that animal rights groups will go to court to block the hunt and will likely protest once the hunt begins. "It will be high drama," she said. "It will stir a lot of people up."

Friends of Animals opposes the offensive bear hunt, and encourages others to non-violently dissent against this killing.



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I strongly support culling instead of hunting,I hope you are succesful in getting the hunt stopped.

Patricia, The hunt is a form of "culling" the bears. Neither hunting nor any form of culling the bears is acceptable. How is it fair that humans bulldozed and developed over the bears' homes and now call the bears "nuisances"? Humans need to learn to coexist peacefully with native wildlife, and stop encroaching on their habitats.

I am an animal lover, though not when they are a threat to my children and domestic pets. Just last week there was a bear at my childs middle school while students were outside for gym class. So it's far for them all to have to run inside and stop their activities so they don't get charged by a bear??? The bear population is too high, that is why they are breaking into homes and garbage cans...they are looking for food because there are too many of them for nature to feed. I pray that why you are opposing all of this that no one in your family or that you know is harmed by one over these hungry, over populated and sometimes very aggressive bears. Just remember not to send your child to school with lunch in their backpacks if they have to walk to school; as all of my children have to do. Sad how they have to buy lunch even if they don't like what's on the menu, do to the fact we DO have bears up here in North West Jersey.

The six-day black bear hunt slated to take place next month in New Jersey will not reduce human-bear conflicts, and will actually hinder the state and local communities' work to create viable solutions. An increase this year in complaints about problem bears does not necessitate the killing of bears. Complaints may be up, but as long as these complaints remain unevaluated there is no way of knowing what is to be done to mitigate them. However, a hunt is not the solution. Commissioner Campbell's statement that "communities are fearful for their safety and the safety of their families" should be taken as a call for his department to work with communities to reduce the causes of human-bear conflicts. Bear experts and the department's own literature places attractants like food at the nexus of human-bear conflicts. This will not change, no matter how many bears hunters blow away over the next five years. Campbell's vacillating focus on New Jersey's bear population estimates misses the point. The problem isn't the bear population, but human behavior. A poster produced by his department lists the first thing people can do to mitigate problems with bears is: "Use bear-proof garbage containers, if possible. They offer the best protection." If this is the best protection for communities that fear for their safety, why isn't the department working to make it possible? Instead of directing resources towards protecting the community, the department is redirecting its resources towards recreational hunting. Last year Campbell made apparent the severe limits the 2003 hunt placed on staff time and resources available for public education and bear feeding-ban enforcement. "I believe we need to show substantial additional progress in each of these areas before considering another black bear hunt," he said. Nevertheless, workable solutions haven't been given a proper chance to succeed. While bear-proof trash bins have been purchased by the department for West Milford communities, the bins are being denied to other communities that have been designated "controls." Members of Hardyston Township in Sussex County have initiated their own distribution of bear-proof cans, but have compromised the effectiveness of the air-tight containers by drilling holes in them. Friends of Animals' bear consultant, Winthrop Staples III, a Wildlife Technician at Alaska's Denali National Park and Preserve, said bear reduction is not required and emphasized that denying bears human food eliminates most human-bear conflicts. "The apparent slow pace of getting bear resistant containers in widespread use in New Jersey is practically and morally very disturbing," he said. "In plain language, someone is liable to be killed by a bear because the [New Jersey] political class is too timid to mandate bear proof containers. This would be an opportune time for public servants to display some strong safeguarding of human food in New Jersey." Daniel Hammer
Friends of Animals

Here we go again! If you can't or aren't willing to live with wildlife then move to the city. WE are the ones invading THEIR habitats. We need to educate everyone especially children. The only reason bears come in contact with humans is because humans are slobs and don't take care of their trash or landfills thus attracting bears to a smorgasbord of goodies. If you saw the camper with the red sleeping bag you will notice that it appeared to be a set up by fish and wildlife. As soon as this camper sat up the bear jumped back and left. Also, who was the idiot filming this?? Wouldn't it have been a better thing to notify this camper that a bear was approaching? This hunt is just another was of lining the pockets of overpaid state officials and to justify their overinflated salaries. The residents of NJ need to call these people out! I am an animal lover and the mother of 2 and I'm constantly telling my children how to react if a confrontation occurs and most importantly to respect All life.

The English enclosure laws of the sixteenth century divested tenured peasants of their land and enabled large landowners to create deer parks where they could shoot semi-tame deer on what used to be public lands. One might have thought all this was history. But the majority (elected by a minority) of freeholders and the New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife (elected by nobody) want another deer hunt this year. Most Monmouth County residents do not want a deer hunt and when residents unfamiliar with the Park System's Deer Management Plan learn about it, most of them are against it. The New Jersey Supreme Court stated last year that New Jersey black bears belong to the people of New Jersey. Then let the people be heard, and their will heeded. And that goes not only for the cancellation of the deer hunt and the Campbell bear hunt which is not based on science, but also for an end to overdevelopment, the construction of megabox stores, the continuing obliteration of open space, the eradication of wildlife, and mass congestion on the roadways - all evidence, among other things, that the effects of the enclosure laws continue unabated to the present day in New Jersey, as elsewhere. Louis Novellino Middletown, N.J.

Just remember, we have over-developed too much land and left these animals with no where to go. If you live in or near a wooded area, you have to expect the animals to come and visit...They are getting ready to hibernate for the winter and are just trying to bulk-up a little bit. Would you shoot a starving homeless man digging through your garbage, or bring him out some bread & soup??? Stop the killing. People are over-populating too, but it is not acceptable to kill them! Human nature is to destroy anything & everything, maybe it's time we all evolved just a little bit!

As a Hunter and sportsman it is obvious that you are little educated about conservation. Hunting is not the main cause of wildlife depletion loss of habitat is and if there is enough food on a tract of land to support 100 animals (and the first year that is what there is)50 male 50 female and second year they have young now there is 150 animals on the tract of land that only supports 100 so 3/4 of the way through the yaer they die of starvation (ALL OF THEM) So conservation says we take 50 that year and preserve the habitat. You should also know that if it wasn't for sportsman breeding, stocking, and setting bag limits for game animals and birds you lovers of animals would not have any to love I ask you not to condem hunting until you are ready to condem the building of cities and shopping malls that surely kill more animals each year

We thought about an odd method to at least cut down the number of hunters on the bear hunt. When permits go on sale, those of us who oppose the hunt should try to buy up ALL the bear hunting licenses we can legally get. That way, on the days of the hunt, there would be virtually no one in the woods with a gun in their hands. ...When will these macho morons with high powered weapons learn that once you kill off nature, it doesn't return? Educating these idiots is completely out of the question...they're too ignorant to be taught anything other than kill a slow moving animal for "sport". Hey...if they're so set on using their weapons, maybe they can change places with some of our kids over in Iraq. That way, we can get our children back, and get rid of our idiots (who will in turn get rid of terrorists). That sounds like a win/win to us.

It is deeply disturbing to read suggestion that hunters kill Iraqis, as if this is a less vile form of killing. No conscious being should suffer the degradation of being stripped of one's personhood. And each black bear, and every Iraqi, is a distinct individual with an interest in living out life on this planet. Being shot at is neither in the interests of black bears, nor in the interests of the people of Iraq. The perceived conflict in Iraq -- as is true with perceived conflicts in New Jersey -- will not be rectified by imposing violence and death on others. A true "win-win" solution must take into account the vital interests of all persons involved, rather than attempt to dominate others. In order to problem-solve and find nonviolent solutions to perceived conflicts we need to move beyond "us" verses "them" thinking. However, if we continue to communicate though our words and actions on the local level that the way to solve problems is via violence and killing, how do we expect to peacefully co-exist with others on a global scale? Daniel Hammer,
Friends of Animals


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