The New Jersey Fish and Game Council this month approved a six-day bear hunt season for December 2003 to manage the bear population in the state.
What would be New Jersey’s first bear hunt since 1970 was approved in a 10-1 vote by the council> Now the proposed hunt will be the subject of public hearings before a final decision is made in September.
Officials in New Jersey are obviously worried about the killing last year of a 5-month old infant by a black bear in New York. Although there has never been a similar killing in New Jersey, complaints about black bears increased to 1,412 in 2002, up from only 1,096 in 2001. In addition, The New York Times reports that in the last two years 59 bears have been killed by animal control officers because they posed an immediate threat to people or property.
New Jersey Fish and Game Council member Jane Morton Galetto explained that she voted for the hunt because,
It’s just a matter of time before a child or an adult is killed here, and people start to say they want to see every bear wiped off the face of New Jersey.
In 2000 a similar hunt was authorized to kill 175 bears, but was withdrawn after lobbying from cities and animal rights organizations. Instead, the state spent $1 million educating people on how to avoid bears. Those groups also plan to lobby hard to prevent the December bear hunt from taking place.
The Daily Record News (NJ) quoted Angie Metler of the New Jersey Animal Rights Alliance as noting that New Jersey Gov. James E. McGreevey lobbied against the 2000 hunt adding, “we intend to hold McGreevey to his promise to protect the bears.”
The Humane Society of the United States’ Barbara Dyer told The New York Times,
We see this as really a call for a trophy hunt. We stopped the hunt before, and we pledge to stop it again.
New Jersey environmental commissioner Bradley M. Campbell, who would likely have authority over any bear hunt, said that additional study might be needed on exactly how many bears there are in New Jersey before he would be prepared to go ahead with a hunt.
State council authorizes black bear hunt. Rob Jennings, Daily Record (New Jersey), March 8, 2003.
Bear hunt is proposed in New Jersey. Robert Hanley, The New York Time, March 8, 2003.