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DEP: Bear Hunt to Go Forward

apmaurosr

Well-known member
DEP won't postpone bear hunt; lawsuit to be filed

By BRUCE A. SCRUTON

[email protected]

Commissioner Bob Martin rejected a request to stop next month's black bear hunt in New Jersey and a lawyer for those opposed to the hunt says she will now be asking a state court to do what the Environmental Protection commissioner won't.

"This hunt violates administrative procedures," said Doris Lin, who represents groups such as the Bear Education and Resource Group and the Animal Protection League of New Jersey. "The policy is arbitrary and capricious and full of 'junk' science."

Lin said she did not know when the lawsuit will be filed.

Martin, in a news release Monday responding to Lin's written request of Nov. 17, said, "The facts are clear, we have an overpopulation of black bears in New Jersey and we must address that issue."

He said the hunt is "one important and necessary tool to deal with the growing number of bears, as part of the state's overall, comprehensive approach to managing its black bear population."

The hunt is scheduled for Dec. 6-11 and coincides with the state's annual six-day shotgun deer season. Only shotguns will be allowed for the bear hunt and hunters must have a special bear hunting permit for one of four hunting zones to participate.

On Oct. 4, Martin met with Lin, other attorneys representing the BEAR Group, APLNJ and the Humane Society of the United States and Ed Tavss to discuss the hunt.

Tavss is a chemistry professor at Rutgers University who says a study he did of bear complaints received by the state Division of Fish and Wildlife differs drastically with the division's reporting of those numbers.

Tavss argues in his study, which has not been reviewed by professional statisticians, that the division counted individual bear complaints two or three times in 2008 and 2009 and that his review shows the number of complaints actually declined.

Tavss also released a study in 2006 that he claims showed that simply regulating how people take care of their garbage will greatly reduce bear-related complaints.

The DEP news release notes Martin sent a letter to Lin saying that "Professor Tavss' allegations challenging the accuracy of the department's black bear incident data are unfounded and, quite simply, wrong."

Anthony Mauro, executive director of the New Jersey Outdoor Alliance, which represents several hunting and conservation organizations, said of the anti-hunting groups assertions: "Even the Transportation Security Administration wouldn't touch his 'junk' science."

Mauro said, "I say that with tongue in cheek, but what the anti-hunting crowd is coming up with itself is really junk itself and meant only to promote the animal rights activists. What they propose is not in the best interest of our environment; not in the best interest of our bears and not in the best interest of public safety."

Jeff Tittel, executive director of the New Jersey Sierra Club, who has taken a strong anti-hunting stance, said, "We are now urging the governor to stop the unnecessary hunt and implement a management strategy that puts the focus on education and non-lethal methods of addressing the issue."

Jeannette Vreeland, acting chairwoman of the Fish and Game Council, was also petitioned last week by Lin to stay the bear hunt. Vreeland said she agrees with the commissioner's position.

The council is a separate agency from the DEP and the full council must act on the petition, she noted. A telephone meeting of the council will have to be held to take a vote since the council's next scheduled meeting is after the hunt.

In July, the council adopted the formal black bear management plant to which Martin later concurred. The plan includes a hunt as just one of several policy issues. Among other objectives are better education of the public, calling on the state Legislature to enact stronger laws against feeding bears and trash management.

Black bears have been sighted in all counties in the state, but the hunt will be confined to the area north of Interstate 78 and west of I-287.

In just the area north of I-80 and west of I-287, less than 1,000 square miles, a recent state study estimated the black bear population at more than 3,400. That computes to more than 3.5 bears per square mile, taking into account human-populated areas where bears don't live. In neighboring states, the bear population is estimated to be about one bear for every three square miles.

The Division of Fish and Wildlife held an online lottery in October to distribute 10,000 bear hunting permits. During that period, 6,500 applied for a permit. While Zone 1 sold out, there are still permits available in the other three zones. Patrick Carr, a supervising wildlife biologist with the state Division of Fish and Wildlife, has said the division anticipates issuing another 500 during the over-the-counter sales period that began this week.
 


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