TRENTON, New Jersey─Today, the Humane Society of the United States, along with the Animal Protection League of New Jersey and a coalition of animal protection groups and New Jersey citizens, asked a New Jersey court to allow the organizations to file an emergency motion challenging the New Jersey Fish and Game Council and the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection’s authorization of the black bear trophy hunt announced last week.

The motion would ask that the hunt scheduled to begin on Dec. 5 be stopped. The hunt would result in the deaths of more than 600 bears as the state’s goal is to remove a massive 20% of its black bear population. The state opines that New Jersey is home to more than 3,000 bears, although its method to count them does not meet standard scientific criteria.

The Humane Society of the United States argued in its request to the court today that the Council’s authorization of the hunt inappropriately circumvented state law, which normally gives the public a minimum of 30 days’ notice to comment on a rulemaking change unless an emergency exists that puts the public in “imminent peril.”

Kate Hendrix, staff attorney for the Humane Society of the United States, stated: “The Fish and Game Council’s authorization of this hunt through emergency rulemaking deprives New Jersey citizens of their due process rights under state law on a matter of immense public concern. The public is not facing any ‘imminent peril’ from New Jersey’s bruins. According to the state’s own records, human-bear conflicts increased only marginally between January and October of this year compared to the same timeframe last year. The numbers that the agency cites to claim there is an ‘emergency’ are misleading and taken totally out of context. They include incidents that do not put the public in danger, such as sightings of injured bears and cases of bears desperately seeking out food from unsecured trash cans and bird feeders. The real crisis at hand is the threat hundreds of New Jersey’s bears will face if a judge does not stop this outrageous trophy hunt and horrific, unscientific assault on bears.”

The New Jersey Fish and Game Council advanced the proposal without empirical data on the status of New Jersey’s black bear population, other than the conjecture that the current population of approximately 3,000 is expected to expand by a preposterous 33% in just two years to 4,000 bears. That speculation has no basis in science because black bears are extremely slow to reproduce.

This hunt is likely to cause long-lasting harm on the state’s population of black bears, far beyond the state’s goal of a 20% reduction in population. Hunting bears causes additional mortalities from infanticide when father bears are removed and new males take their place. When the state sanctions a hunt, poaching incidents go up as has already been the case when last week four bear cubs were killed in an alleged poaching case in Passaic County.

Elissa Frank, New Jersey state director for the Humane Society of the United States, said: “Hunting bears to purportedly protect people makes no sense, and research shows that it simply doesn’t work. Instead, like other states and provinces have done, New Jersey must strategically invest in local community education to get people to employ bear-aware behavior, such as using bear-resistant trash cans and taking down bird feeders. Killing highly intelligent black bears who are just trying to survive hibernation is not the answer when there are simple, straightforward and humane solutions to living with our beloved black bears.”

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