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Bear policy considers all options
Unreleased rules list birth control, hunting
Thursday, March 24, 2005
BY BRIAN T. MURRAY
Star-Ledger Staff
Both hunting and birth control will be considered potential tools for controlling the state's black bear population under a "comprehensive management strategy" issued yesterday by state wildlife officials in response to a state Supreme Court order.

The 21-page policy, which was not publicly released, is a result of a legal battle that erupted when Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Bradley Campbell stymied a six-day bear hunt proposed last year by the state Fish and Game Council.

"It's a policy, not a plan, and yes, it includes hunting and some form of immuno-contraception or sterilization. It also lists relocation -- all the options available to the state for management of New Jersey bears," said council chairman Scott Ellis.

The Supreme Court stopped last year's hunt four days before it was to start, ruling Dec. 2 that it had no way of knowing if the council was justified in launching a hunt to control the bear population. The court said a comprehensive bear policy was needed.

The court also ruled that the council shares responsibility for wildlife management with the DEP commissioner.

Both the DEP and the council declined to make the policy document public, contending Campbell must first review it. Campbell has said public hearings will be held on the policy, with the possibility of modifications being made before it is approved.

Animal rights advocates have opposed controlling bears through hunting. Wildlife officials contend it remains the only effective tool.

Under the Supreme Court ruling, if Campbell signs off on the management policy, the council would be free to reinitiate a hunt. A bear hunt is included in the council's 2005 Game Code, but it will not proceed unless the management plan is finalized this year, said Ellis.

In 2003, state wildlife biologists estimated that 3,200 bears roamed 1,580 square miles in the northwestern corner of the state. Last year biologists released data only for an intensely studied 580-square-mile section, where they found 1,490 bears, or nearly three bears per square mile.

Campbell disputed those data, contending only 1,600 bears roam the state.

The state held its first bear hunt in 33 years in December 2003, with Campbell's support. Last year, the state also launched birth control tests on captive bears at Six Flags Wild Safari in Jackson Township.
 

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I'll tell you this! Money for birth control and relocation better not come from my hunting monies![mad] I'm not paying so they can steal from me this great natural resource! I pay so I can harvest food not move it to another part of the state or turn it into a wasted piece of nature that can't even reproduce like mother nature intended! thats BS!!!![mad][mad][mad][mad][mad][mad][mad][mad][down]
 

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Another bear story. Can you believe the mind set of these anti's?![mad] http://www.dailyrecord.com/news/articles/news2-bearhunt.htm
In bear fracas, neither side has a patent on paranoia
By Abbott Koloff, Daily Record

The conspiracy theorists had it all figured out. They were saying that a miniature horse wasn't actually killed and partially eaten by a bear last week, as authorities said. They were saying that maybe coyotes were the culprits. Or maybe it was a mountain lion. Or maybe another miniature horse, a mare, the one carrying the dead horse's foal, had something to do it.

Maybe, they seemed to be saying, the bear was framed.

OK, so that sounds a little crazy. But apparently this is what some people want to believe. When it comes to bears, and the prospect of a bear hunt, people on both sides of the issue have been known to lose perspective.

Some people who want a bear hunt say bears are a danger to our children and a hunt is needed to reduce their numbers. Some go so far as to say that those who oppose a hunt are un-American and want to overturn the Second Amendment. They say anti-hunters want to take away their guns. They say some of the same things about people who simply question whether a bear hunt is necessary.

On the other paw, some people who oppose a hunt say bears are vilified unfairly by hunters and by some biologists who work for the state Division of Fish and Wildlife. Bears, they sometimes seem to be saying, would never harm so much as a fly. So when a young woman claimed a couple of years ago that a bear ran after her and knocked her down in a state park in Vernon, some people suggested that she made up the story. Because her identity was not released by state officials, some people suggested that she did not even exist.

So it was not surprising that some who oppose a bear hunt were coming up with theories this week to explain what happened to a miniature horse in Andover Township last week. It didn't matter that bear tracks were found in the horse's paddock, or that a trail of blood led from the paddock into the woods. Some anti-hunt people suggested that the horse might have escaped from the paddock and might have been attacked by coyotes. They suggested that the horse might have been killed or injured in a fight with another horse. They suggested that the bear might have stumbled onto the body in the woods.

"I'm calling it a phony pony story," said Susan Kehoe of Vernon.

"This is only the beginning of the slander (against bears) that's going to happen this season," said Angi Metler, also of Vernon.

Before you judge them too harshly, you should know that their zeal, while off the mark in this case, has at least some foundation. Hunters and some state biologists with the Division of Fish and Wildlife who support a bear hunt probably wouldn't mind shining a light on every bear incident in the state. A little public anxiety doesn't hurt the bear-hunting cause.

On the other hand, some state officials who opposed a hunt last year have not always been quick to report bear incidents. Bradley Campbell, commissioner of the state Department of Environmental Protection, which oversees the Division of Fish and Wildlife, went to court to put a stop to the bear hunt. The DEP did not report an encounter between a bear and Boy Scouts last fall until reporters asked about it. And the DEP talked about last week's attack of a miniature horse only after police reported it to the media. Public anxiety hurts the anti-bear hunt cause.

And when it comes to bears, it's all about public perception and politics.

Judy Burns, the owner of the miniature horse, got caught in the middle of that politics when she woke up one morning last week and noticed that her miniature horse, Phantom, was not in its paddock. She called police, put her children on the school bus and went searching for her missing pet. She said she heard something rustling in bushes. That is where she found Phantom, and a lot of fresh blood. She figures that she surprised a bear while it was eating her horse.

Burns said she received some nasty phone calls after the story appeared in newspapers. She was called a "bear killer" because state officials said the bear involved in the attack was dangerous, so they planned to find it and kill it. The callers did not identify themselves. They weren't interested in offering condolences. They were more interested in blaming the victims. Funny thing is, Burns said she had not favored a bear hunt before her horse was attacked. She said she is rethinking her position.

"I was against a hunt but now I'm thinking twice about it," Burns said.

No one interviewed for this story would condone the kind of phone calls that Burns received this past week. But some anti-hunting people were saying that they didn't believe the story being told by officials. They asked how a bear could have crawled under an electrified fence and have entered the paddock without other animals housed there causing a commotion and awakening Burns and her family. Burns said she has wondered the same thing. She suggested that the bear might have been downwind.

She does not have to offer any explanations.

Some people questioning the official version of the attack apparently believe that any bad news about bears is planted by pro-hunting biologists with the Division of Fish and Wildlife. On Wednesday, the Division released a report about the incident that said bear tracks were found in the mud, and that the horse's wounds were "consistent with predatory black bear killings." But some people refuse to believe obvious explanations.

"What you are hearing is a distrust of the Division," said Lynda Smith, of West Milford, director of the Bear Education and Resource (BEAR) Group, which opposes a bear hunt.

"I speak to people who say the Division is planting bears in urban areas; bringing them to Trenton by truck. I don't trust the Division either, although I'm not saying that they're trucking bears around."

Smith said she also has received phone calls from people who favor a bear hunt, some of them more threatening than anything received by Burns. She said someone once told her that her children should be eaten by bears. She said she has been called "anti-human." She characterized some of the calls as threats.

That, too often, has been the nature of the debate. Neither side has a monopoly on being mean-spirited. Neither side has a patent on paranoia, or twisting facts that don't help their cause. So bear tracks and bear bites are replaced by coyotes and mountain lions. They are replaced by conspiracies, cover-ups and theories that come from a lack of trust, and maybe too much politics.



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Abbott Koloff can be reached at [email protected] or (973) 989-0652.
 

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I'll tell you this! Money for birth control and relocation better not come from my hunting monies! I'm not paying so they can steal from me this great natural resource! I pay so I can harvest food not move it to another part of the state or turn it into a wasted piece of nature that can't even reproduce like mother nature intended! thats BS!!!!
It is and it does. Your license money currently pays for many public safety and non sportsman related activities that should be paid for by the general fund. It's one of the reasons the Division is in such bad financial shape right now.
 

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public saftey and some non-sportsman related things might be ok. Don't get me wrong I think hunting and fishing money should go towards hunting, fishing and other wildlife projects that don't include making a game animal reproduce less so I can't hunt them but if putting some money towards other public safty issues helps hunters stay in a good light then add a dollar or two to my license and stamp fees! I'll pay it! I'm sure I already do! It's about time these other groups such as The Bear Group and P.E.T.A start to put thier money where thier mouths are and start funding these projects that they push for instead of making us waste even more money fighting these lost minded people over these issues in court! They do so much damage to wildlife it isn't even funny! All the money we waste fighting these idiots in court should be and would be going towards wildlife if it wasn't going to lawyers!!!![mad][mad][mad][mad][mad][mad]
 

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Public Services Funded by
New Jersey’s Sportsmen and Women

The annual value of services provided to the general public by the New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife through funding paid for by sportsmen and women is approximately $5 million dollars.

These services consist of wildlife education, law enforcement, control of nuisance wildlife, including bears, for communities, farmers and homeowners, and the contribution of data that forms the basis of many State water quality and land use regulatory programs.

Examples of these services include:

State Lands Management: $2,000,000

The Division manages and maintains more than 40% of New Jersey’s state-owned open space. These lands are open to the general public free of charge. Division of Fish and Wildlife lands also provide valuable protection to headwaters and recharge areas that are imperative to New Jersey’s watersheds.

Law Enforcement: $750,000 (The Division expends more than $4 million on law enforcement)

The Division’s Law Enforcement Unit maintains a presence on open space areas and waters throughout New Jersey. While the majority of activity centers on hunters and anglers a substantial effort is expended on endangered species protection, pollution control, exotic species enforcement and in training to other agencies adding substantially to both watershed protection and to the welfare of the general public.

Wildlife Control: $675,000

This program provides assistance to the agricultural community and the general public in controlling wildlife damage to crops and property. The unit provides training to local animal control officers and participates in the Municipal Animal Control Officers training program. This unit responds to over 3,500 complaints annually.

Endangered and Nongame Species (ENSP) $300,000

A substantial amount of New Jersey’s ecological heritage has been compromised by unplanned growth. The Division of Fish and Wildlife’s Landscape Project created mapping to encourage proactive conservation by government and non-governmental groups at local, regional and state levels. The program promotes long-term and large-scale protection of environmental resources by maintaining and distributing this mapping and providing technical assistance to users.

Warmwater and Coldwater Fish Stocking in State Parks $ 200,000

The Division of Fish and Wildlife annually stocks more than 200 waterbodies with 19 different species of fish. A number of these waterbodies are within designated State Park Lands. Each year the Division stocks $200,000 worth of trout, sunfish, b [no swearing please] and catfish in these parks to provide additional recreation to the thousands of parks visitors.

Urban Fishing Program: $50,000

This program provides fish and staff expertise to civic group partners that together bring outdoor and environmental education to those who reside in areas where it would otherwise be unavailable. The program currently participates annually in 75 fishing derbies serving nearly 10,000 children.

Environmental Review: $275,000

One of the most broad-based contributions of the Division of Fish and Wildlife to the Department’s strategic goals is in its work on environmental reviews. Each year the Division reviews and provides expert input into approximately 1,000 proposals for a variety of DEP permits or requests through the DEP for technical natural resource information. Information is routinely supplied to programs and staff throughout DEP and also extends to the NJ Department of Transportation, US Fish and Wildlife Service, US Army Corps of Engineers and Delaware River Basin Commission.

Community Based Deer Management: $98,000

This is a cooperative program with local governments to develop alternative deer population control strategies. Division of Fish and Wildlife also provides technical assistance on deer management on state Parks and Forest lands.

Natural Resource Education and Information $250,000

The Division conducts one the largest environmental education programs in the Department of Environmental Protection. The Pequest Trout Hatchery and Natural Resource Education Center is open to the public seven days a week free of charge. Pequest receives more than 20,000 visitors and 200 school groups annually. The Division also conducts teacher education programs including both Project WILD and Aquatic WILD which play a crucial role in helping New Jersey teachers meet environmental education core curriculum standards.
Surface Water Classification of New Jersey Waters $15,000

The State’s waters receive protection through the Surface Water Quality Standards, which establish designated uses to be achieved and specify water quality criteria. The classification of surface waters is based in part upon a classification system developed by the Division that relies upon fisheries and water quality data. The Division continues to survey waters annually and provide ecological-based recommendations for classification changes to DEP.

Health and Forensics: $275,000

This program investigates and researches diseases and chemical contamination in wildlife and fish populations. This work provides substantial input to human health issues such as rabies control and Hanta virus, west nile virus and Pfisteria sp. studies. Support is provided to DEP pollution investigations and enforcement efforts and through work on the Toxics in Biota committee.
Warmwater Stream Assessment $65,000
Through the Integrated Biological Aquatic Assessment project staff assess the health of aquatic ecosystems, in low gradient waters in the Lower Delaware River Drainage, through the collection of baseline fisheries data. This information augments other statewide DEP initiatives to develop Index of Biotic Integrity metrics to assess stream health and delineate critical aquatic ecosystem habitat.
Nongame Fishes Project $ 200,000

The State’s nongame fish fauna forms a significant component of the aquatic biological diversity and natural resource heritage. The loss of species biodiversity through human impact is an undesirable outcome and represents a failure of our resource stewardship. The information gained by this study will be utilized by the Department’s Natural Heritage Program and a variety of other agencies whose actions directly and indirectly affect the continued survival and well being of these unique species.

Lake Inventories $40,000

The Division conducts intensive inventories of the fish populations found throughout the State. Physical and chemical data as well as indices of fisheries dynamics are utilized to assess the health of the aquatic ecosystem. Programs such as the Department’s Watershed Management division utilize the data obtained during lake inventories.

Permit Issuance $ 5,000

Staff review and issue water lowering permits for lakes, ponds, and reservoirs throughout New Jersey. These reviews, conducted cooperatively with the Department’s Land Use Regulation Program (LURP) and Bureau of Dam Safety, insure that all environmental and safety concerns are addressed and Department goals are obtained.
Stream Restoration $10,000

Assistance in the design and implementation of stream restoration projects is offered through partnerships with conservation organizations and governmental agencies (local, state, and federal). Bank stabilization and establishment of riparian buffers help restore and maintain the ecological function and value of streams and riparian corridors that have been impacted by encroaching development.
 

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Thats a great point!

(PETA, BEARS, HSUS, etc.)They have unknown amounts of money and funding, and claim they care about nothing but the animals. Yet how much of that money do they actually put into helping the animals? How much of their money goes towards purchasing land for the animals and restoring the very habitat these creatures need to survive? How much of their money goes towards funding these studies they want?

Im willing to bet its not even half of the money we raise for all of that. Probably not even one red cent! But I cant say that for sure.

They have large funds to use for court battles and high priced attorneys. Thats all that money is for. They have no intentions of helping the animals. They dont really LOVE the animals, they just HATE hunting.
Im willing to bet that if they successfully shut down hunting, they would divide the remaining funds and go build bigger houses. They would forget about the animals entirely.

They showed no remorse for the pony that was killed, or the owner of that pony and her young child.

They only show remorse for the bear that has to die now. You know what, I feel bad for the bear too. He shouldnt have to live in such close proximity to people. But unfortunately he does, and now he is a danger. He needs to be taken out of the population.

Though I got a bear permit last year, I wasnt sure it was the best idea to have another hunt. I didnt think we had the most accurate estimate on the bears possible. Because of this, I wasnt willing to jeapordize the future of such a magnificent animal. However, I now believe we do have a good estimate, and if we keep tabs on the bears well enough, and manage them properly, there should be no problem with a bear hunt, whenever deemed necessary. May not need it every year, but every other year perhaps. Or a VERY limited one every year. So as you can see, we have more compassion for the animals than they do.

Back to the topic at hand though.....

We have to show the majority of the public what hypocrits these ARA people really are. Claiming a greater love for the animals than anyone, yet doing NOTHING for the future of the wildlife populations.

Its time the general public sees who really cares! Its obvious that it isnt the animal rights activists.

There was a great article by a non-hunter in some far away state a while back...that outed these ARA nuts for what they really are. Im going to try and find out who it is, and see if we cant get permission to have it run in several newspapers. The lady who wrote it touched upon all of these points and more. Really damaging the front that these people hide behind!

Have a good one---Matt:)
 

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I didnt think we had the most accurate estimate on the bears possible. Because of this, I wasnt willing to jeapordize the future of such a magnificent animal. However, I now believe we do have a good estimate, and if we keep tabs on the bears well enough, and manage them properly, there should be no problem with a bear hunt, whenever deemed necessary.
Just curious, why did you doubt the population numbers and what changed your mind?
 

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Bloodtrail,

Last year it really seemed like we were just pushing to hunt the bears again. Just for the sake of hunting bears.

Dont get me wrong. I KNOW there are plenty of bears out there. But I wasnt sure if we had done enough research to warrant another hunt. Data collected from the hunt, showed what appears to be a very healthy population. I just wanted more evidence, and a more conclusive study done.

Bears are a FRAGILE critter to manage, moreso than deer. The females only birth offspring after their 3rd or 4th "birthday". They also only birth every other year. They rely heavily on a healthy food source. Without it, it largely impacts their rate and ability to reproduce.

For those reasons, I was concerned that we may decimate the population to a point that could take years to bring back.

I want the bears around for several reasons. And Im just as gung-ho to hunt them as the next guy. But I would never want to jeapordize the future population of an animal just for some recreational hunting.

That being said, I have followed the studies the fish and game have done in two regions of the state more closely. I found their statistics to be reassuring that we could NOT decimate the Black Bear with limited hunts. I know they have the best interest of our wildlife in mind, so I know they arent manipulating the facts to make a hunt seem necessary.

With these facts and more accurate estimates, I am all for another hunt. And Im also for incorporating a lottery system to provide money for the proper funds. Hopefully some of that money can be directed at yearly research of the bear populations! Allowing us to continue a yearly or bi-yearly management hunt, without fear of depleting such a wonderful animal and natural resource to irreperable numbers.

Hope that helps you to understand where I was coming from.:)
Have a good one---Matt:)
 

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Like I said, I was just curious. It seems originally you may have been believing what Campbell and the media were saying but when you looked into the facts on your own you found the truth. I wish more people would do the same.

You did have one fact incorrect, though:

The females only birth offspring after their 3rd or 4th "birthday".
In NJ it is quite common for females to have their first litter as young as 2. With our female biased population the population grows much faster than most other places.
 

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Hmm, I wasnt aware of that. Thats interesting.
I was going more by the national avg. of female black bear reproduction, which is generally the third or fourth year.

There is no doubt we have a healthy population of them here though, thats for sure. With bear populations nearing 3 bears per sq mile.
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Like the writings you all did on this subject, very good !!!! The way things are going with bear sightings, the killing of livestock, and the new Bear Managment plan coming out, I really feel good about them allowing a bear hunt this year.
 
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