(NJ) Bill proposing bear hunt moratorium dies in committee


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Drizzt
May 15, 2003, 09:46 PM
The Associated Press State & Local Wire

May 15, 2003, Thursday, BC cycle

7:28 PM Eastern Time

SECTION: State and Regional

LENGTH: 511 words

HEADLINE: Bill proposing bear hunt moratorium dies in committee

BYLINE: By JEFF LINKOUS, Associated Press Writer

DATELINE: TRENTON, N.J.

BODY:
Animal rights activists trying to block a bear hunt were dealt a setback Thursday when a bill proposing a five-year moratorium on a hunt failed to clear the state Senate Environment Committee.

The measure sponsored by Middlesex County Democrat Sen. Joseph Vitale fell one vote short of the four needed to advance. Three Democrats supported it, while three Republicans abstained. Vitale said the measure can be brought before the committee again. A version is also pending in the Assembly Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee.

"I don't think this state has committed enough resources intellectually or financially to explore alternatives," he said.

In March, the state Fish & Wildlife Game Council approved a six-day hunt, from Dec. 8-13, to control New Jersey's black bear population.

If it goes forward, the hunt would be the first in 33 years. Each hunter would be allowed to take one bear in an area north of Route 78 and west of Route 287.

Thirty years ago, there were fewer than 100 black bears in New Jersey. The Department of Environmental Protection estimates there are now 1,500 to 3,000 bears, most of them in the northwest part of the state.

Commissioner Bradley Campbell said the state is trying to get a more precise count. State officials also are exploring contraception methods as a way to keep the population in check.

Bear sightings have increased in recent years, as have reports of bears wandering into residential neighborhoods looking for food and killing farmers' livestock.

So far this year, there have been 81 nuisance bear complaints, down from the 103 this time last year. Last year, there were 55 reports of bears entering homes, and 35 bears had to be killed because of aggressive behavior. Another 66 were killed by cars.

Animal rights activists question the state's population figures and the effectiveness of a hunt as a management method.

Some of those who testified before the Senate committee Thursday said state officials have used the figures merely to justify a hunt. A moratorium would provide time to double check the bear population figures and explore nonlethal control methods, they say.

Others said nuisance bears would not be the ones hunted because they have already moved too close to populated areas.

Susan Stringfield and Doris Lin, members of the Bear Education and Resource Group, said hunters and hunting accidents pose a greater public safety threat than bears do.

Jeff Tittel of the New Jersey Chapter of the Sierra Club called for greater land conservation to address the problem. Tittel said the bear habitat is losing 5,000 acres a year.

George Howard of the New Jersey State Federation of Sportsmen's Clubs said a hunt is the most practical management method. Since it would coincide with a firearms deer hunt, he said, it's unlikely to attract an excessive number of hunters.

Howard said the objective is thin the bear population gradually, not all at once.

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mete
May 16, 2003, 09:20 AM
No surprise there. The state has mostly anti hunters. Even as the bear problems increase they will not hunt them.

Art Eatman
May 16, 2003, 10:53 AM
20 years back, lotsa Jerseyite Yuppies were all exercised against deer hunting. After the overpopulation of Bambis starting ruining the hoods of their Volvos and BMWs, the attitudes changed...

It's just a matter of time and luck before some kids going to or from school, or playing in some woods, get between a mama bear and her cubs. Then the newspaper stories change from cutsie-poo writeups of bear-sightings to "Oh, how tragic."

Art

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