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November 23, 2005 -- NEW Jersey's second bear hunt in 35 years will begin in December, but it doesn't sound as if it will go off without the usual outcry from animal rights groups, some of whom have threatened to cause some problems.

Hunters will be able to shoot bears over six days starting Dec. 5. The hunt is to take place in a roughly 1,600-square-mile territory in the north of the state.

"I think that public safety and sound wildlife management are the winners," said state environmental chief Bradley Campbell, who approved the plan after scuttling last year's hunt during a power struggle with the state Fish and Game Council. "As the black bear population has expanded, incidents involving risks to public safety and property, which subsided after the 2003 hunt, have increased significantly."

Campbell last year took the game council to court in a dispute that centered largely on whether a hunt could be held without his say. At the time, Campbell favored other means to control the bears.

Just days before a hunt was to be held, the state Supreme Court settled the matter in a ruling that sided with Campbell but also pointed out that N.J. lacked an overall approach for dealing with the bears. The court said no hunt could be held in the absence of that kind of planning.

In 2003, N.J. held its first bear hunt in 33 years, and 328 bears were killed.

While sportsmen and women prepare for the hunt, anti-hunters may be recruiting an army of saboteurs to stir up the woods and cause trouble.

The New York-based Win Animal Rights (WAR) posted the following message on its website: WANTED: WARRIORS. Now Recruiting Bear Hunt Saboteurs. The site says the primary target will be New Jersey's bear hunt in December, but claims it will use Pennsylvania as a training ground since that state's hunt begins this month.

Hunter harassment is illegal, so sportsmen should contact law enforcement officials immediately if an activist intentionally interferes with your hunt, said U.S. Sportsmens Alliance President Bud Pidgeon.

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