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July 13, 2010

New Jersey Officials Ignore Public Sentiment and Approve Bear Hunt

HSUS opposes approval of a bear trophy hunt by the state Fish and Game Council

The New Jersey Fish and Game Council, despite receiving thousands of comments from state residents expressing opposition, has approved a Draft Comprehensive Black Bear Management Policy that includes plans for a trophy hunt of bears to take place in December 2010. The Humane Society of the United States, the nation's largest animal protection organization, is urging the state to pursue more effective and humane non-lethal methods to resolve conflicts with bears.

"It is unfortunate that the New Jersey Fish and Game Council chose to ignore the voices of the majority of New Jersey residents, who oppose the trophy hunting of black bears and overwhelmingly oppose the shooting of small cubs and of mother bears with nursing young," said Andrew Page, senior director of the Wildlife Abuse and Fur-Free Campaigns for The HSUS. "Allowing the trophy hunting of bears in an effort to reduce conflicts is as effective as shooting pedestrians at random in an effort to curb jaywalking. This is a trophy hunt for heads and hides masquerading as wildlife management."

The management policy includes plans for a hunt in which it is estimated that more than 400 bears could be killed. The policy sets no prohibition on the killing of mother bears with nursing cubs, the killing of 10-month-old cubs, or the baiting of bears with food — practices that were rampant in New Jersey's previous hunts in 2003 and 2005.

Gov. Chris Christie has the ability to put a stop to the hunt in response to overwhelming public pressure to protect New Jersey's bears.

A statewide poll conducted in April 2010 by Mason-Dixon Polling & Research found 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.

The HSUS submitted extensive comments opposing the hunt, outlining in detail the tremendous flaws found in the Draft Comprehensive Black Bear Management Policy, which can be viewed here.

Facts

  • HSUS members submitted more than 2,000 comments to the Division of Fish and Wildlife in opposition to bear hunting and sent Gov. Christie more than 7,500 e-mails asking him to stop the hunt.
  • Hunting does not reduce human-bear conflicts — actually, it may increase conflicts — and causes only a short-term reduction in bear populations, followed by an increase.
  • No person has ever been killed by a bear in the state's history, and attacks are quite rare.
  • New Jersey's bear hunt would be an exercise in obtaining heads and hides for trophy hunters.
  • Most conflicts with bears can easily be eliminated simply by making garbage and other anthropogenic food sources inaccessible.
  • A bear hunt has not been held in New Jersey since 2005.
  • Bears were protected in New Jersey since 1970, with the exception of two hunts, one in 2003 and the other in 2005.

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The Humane Society of the United States is the nation's largest animal protection organization — backed by 11 million Americans, or one of every 28. For more than a half-century, The HSUS has been fighting for the protection of all animals through advocacy, education, and hands-on programs. Celebrating animals and confronting cruelty — On the Web at humanesociety.org.

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