Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Animal rights groups sue to stop bear hunt in New Jersey

Can you believe there are actually wackos that hunt bears?! Amazing. Besides some manly feelings, what would they gain from killing a bear? And if they're so manly, why not put down the guns, etc., and try to take on the bear with they're own physical devices? We’ll see how big of men they are then.

Read on:

http://www.newsday.com/news/local/wire/newjersey/ny-bc-nj--
bearhunt1128nov28,0,4647579.story?coll=ny-region-apnewjersey


Animal rights groups sue to stop bear hunt
By ANGELA DELLI SANTI
Associated Press Writer

November 28, 2005, 9:18 PM EST

TRENTON, N.J. -- Bear hunting opponents on Monday filed a lawsuit to try to stop New Jersey's second bear hunt in 35 years from taking place.

Two animal rights groups filed suit in the Appellate Division of Superior Court to ax the six-day hunt, which is scheduled to begin Dec. 5. A hearing was scheduled for Friday morning.

State officials approved the hunt earlier this month as part of a bear management strategy that advocates say is needed to curb the increasing bear population. A 2003 hunt killed 328 of the animals.

"Our state has a moral and ethical responsibility to properly protect and humanely coexist with the wildlife and animals of New Jersey," said Kevin Barber a lawyer for the groups, the Animal Rights Alliance and the Bear Education and Resource Group.

The state's bears have made a remarkable rebound since the 1970s, when fewer than 100 remained after nearly being eradicated by 19th century hunters who considered bears vermin. The animals now number in the thousands and have been spotted in all 21 counties, but are mainly concentrated in the state's northwestern areas.

The Department of Environmental Protection had no immediate comment on the suit, which names Environmental chief Bradley Campbell, who authorized the hunt, and the Division of Fish and Game, among others.

The suit maintains that the state's black bear management plan is flawed and should be invalidated. It contends the state overestimated its number of black bears and their impact on people and property, and that it failed to explore other alternatives to manage bear-human contact.

"Our state's black bear population should not be viciously hunted next week simply to support the position of a dozen individuals," said Angi Metler, executive director of the state's Animal Rights Alliance chapter.

The state's plan includes a hunt, public awareness campaign and creating bear-free zones near heavily populated areas. The bear exclusion zones encompass Bergen, Essex, Hudson, Union, Middlesex and northern Monmouth counties; the state's midsection in Somerset and Mercer counties; along the western border and the Jersey Shore. Bears wandering into those zones would be relocated or killed if necessary.

The New Jersey Sierra Club, while not part of the suit, has been pressuring acting Gov. Richard J. Codey to halt the hunt. Gov.-elect Jon Corzine said during the campaign for governor that he opposes a bear hunt.

"Codey should stay the execution until the next governor," said Jeff Tittel, executive director of the New Jersey Sierra Club.

Tittel also criticized the bear management plan, saying there is no money in the state budget to implement it.

If the six-day hunt goes forward as scheduled, hunting would be permitted in the area north of Interstate 78 and west of Interstate 287. New York and Pennsylvania have similar hunts to help keep their bear populations in check.

While the state does not know how many bears there are, it uses a research area in northern New Jersey to extrapolate data about the population. The bear management plan aims to reduce the number in that area over five years from about 1,600 animals now to the estimated 2002 level _ 1,317 animals.

Animal activists and environmentalists fought unsuccessfully to stop the 2003 hunt, arguing that overbuilding was to blame for increasing bear-human contact and that no impact study had been done.

Last year, the U.S. Sportsmen's Alliance sued when Campbell opposed a hunt after the state's Fish and Game Council had approved one. The state Supreme Court canceled the hunt four days before it was to begin, saying that a bear management program was needed first.

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