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April 16, 2010

New Poll Reveals NJ Residents Oppose Trophy Hunting of Black Bears

Residents overwhelmingly support non-lethal bear management

A statewide survey conducted by Mason-Dixon Polling & Research, Inc. has revealed that New Jersey voters oppose the trophy hunting of black bears. Statewide, 45 percent of voters oppose the hunting of black bears in New Jersey, while only 35 percent support it.

Voters also strongly agree, by 74 to 20 percent, that the state should prioritize non-lethal methods of solving conflicts between bears and people. The survey results were consistent in every geographic region of the state, with all regions opposed to bear hunting and in favor of non-lethal solutions.

The poll comes after the New Jersey Fish and Game Council released its Comprehensive Black Bear Management Policy in March, which included plans for a bear hunt in December. The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection approved this plan.

Additionally, voters strongly oppose the hunting of bear cubs under a year of age, some of whom are still nursing, the killing of mother bears with cubs, and the use of bait to lure bears to hunters who can shoot them while they were feeding, all of which was permitted in the state's previous bear hunts, in 2003 and 2005.

"This survey confirms what we've long known: New Jersey residents oppose the trophy hunting of black bears, particularly when inhumane or unsporting practices are involved, such as the shooting of nursing cubs, the shooting of mother bears, and the baiting of bears with piles of food," said Heather Cammisa, The HSUS' New Jersey state director. "Voters want real solutions, and they know that proper garbage management, not trophy hunting, will reduce conflicts with bears."

The survey of 625 New Jersey voters was conducted statewide from April 7 through April 8, 2010. The margin of error is plus or minus 4 percent. The questions and results are below.

QUESTION: The state of New Jersey has protected black bears since 1970 with only two trophy hunts permitted in the past forty years. The state is now considering allowing hunters to kill up to 400 black bears. Do you support or oppose the hunting of black bears in New Jersey?

                          STATE    NORTH    NEWARK      CENTRAL      SOUTH 

SUPPORT           35%      38%         36%           32%           30% 

OPPOSE               45%      43%         42%           51%           47% 

UNDECIDED        20%     19%         22%           17%           23% 

QUESTION: During New Jersey's previous black bear hunts, hunters were permitted to shoot cubs as young as 10 months old and shoot mother bears with cubs, some of whom may still be nursing.

Do you support or oppose New Jersey allowing the shooting of bear cubs as young as 10 months old?

                           STATE     NORTH      NEWARK      CENTRAL   SOUTH 

SUPPORT             12%        13%        14%            11%           9% 

OPPOSE                 82%        82%        79%            83%         85% 

UNDECIDED          6%         5%         7%               6%           6% 

QUESTION: Do you support or oppose New Jersey allowing shooting of mother bears with cubs?

                           STATE    NORTH      NEWARK      CENTRAL      SOUTH 

SUPPORT             11%       13%          10%           12%           9% 

OPPOSE                 81%       77%          78%           84%         85% 

UNDECIDED           8%      10%           12%            4%           6% 

QUESTION: In New Jersey's previous black bear hunts, hunters were permitted to lure bears with bait and shoot them while they were feeding. Do you support or oppose New Jersey permitting the practice of shooting baited feeding bears?

                            STATE    NORTH      NEWARK      CENTRAL    SOUTH 

SUPPORT              24%        26%        24%           27%          17% 

OPPOSE                  63%        64%        59%           61%          71% 

UNDECIDED          13%       10%        17%           12%          12% 

QUESTION: Bears sometimes come into conflict with people. The vast majority of these reported conflicts are nuisance complaints about garbage cans, bird feeders and simple sightings of bears near urban areas. Many states successfully manage bear populations and reduce conflict through non-lethal measures such as public education, trash management, and game officers using rubber pellets and loud noises to frighten bears away, instead of killing them.

Please tell me if you agree or disagree with the following statement: 

New Jersey should place priority on policies that promote non-lethal methods to reduce conflicts between bears and people.

                      STATE     NORTH     NEWARK      CENTRAL    SOUTH 

AGREE            74%        72%        70%           73%         83% 

DISAGREE          20%       25%         20%           20%         15% 

NOT SURE       6%        3%         10%            7%           2% 

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