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N.J. has bears in cross hairs
Friday, November 18, 2005

By RICHARD COWEN
STAFF WRITER


The state's new Black Bear Management Plan sure is bad news for the bears.

First, the plan calls for bear hunts in 2005, 2006 and 2007 - taking aim at both the growing bruin population and the political opponents of hunting who have stubbornly dug in on the issue for nearly a decade.

Second, it establishes a new "Bear-Free" zone in the cities and suburbs - one that includes almost all of Bergen County, and much of Passaic County. Under the new policy, bruins sighted wandering in the Bear-Free zone should be shot and killed - instead of being tranquilized, captured and relocated to a state park, the approach under the old policy.

"Urban bears are going to be euthanized by the police" under the new policy, said Dr. Leonard Wolgast, a member of the state Fish and Game Council and one of the primary architects of the new approach.

In Passaic County, the Bear-Free zone begins at Route 287 in Pompton Lakes and includes all municipalities south of that point, such as Wayne, Paterson, Passaic and Little Falls. The zone cuts through Oakland at Route 287 to encomp [no swearing please] the rest of Bergen County. It then winds its way south through Essex County, all the way down the Shore.

Wolgast said past efforts at relocating bears have been costly and time-consuming, while doing nothing to address the problem of overpopulation. He said there are certain areas in New Jersey where there should be "zero tolerance" for black bears.

FAST FACTS:


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Highlights of the new Black Bear Management Policy:


Recommends legislation to force public campgrounds to install bear-proof trash bins.


Calls for an increase in bear education, including having one full-time bear educator. Restores state funding for education programs.


Would print educational materials in Spanish.


Calls for Legislature to clarify the Don't Feed the Bears law and explain difference between "intentional" and "unintentional" feeding.


Creates "Bear-Free" zones where police could kill - rather than trap and relocate - bears. The areas are those with less than 30 percent forest coverage.


Allows farmers to get a permit to shoot bears if they are destroying crops or livestock.

WHAT'S NEXT

A total of 4,073 hunters have applied for bear permits. Bear permits are available only to hunters who complete a safety course given by the state. The only safety course in North Jersey will be held 7 p.m. Monday at the Meadowlands Environmental Center, 2 DeKorte Plaza, Lyndhurst. Hunters who completed a bear safety course in either 2003 or 2004 don't have to go again and can apply for permits.


The old policy allowed only specially trained police officers or members of the state Division of Fish and Wildlife to shoot a bear - and only if it posed an immediate danger to people or property, such as during a home invasion. In other situations, Fish and Wildlife would generally set a trap for a nuisance bear, and if captured, would relocate it to a nearby |state park.

The new policy divides the state into seven Bear Management Zones. Capture and relocate is still the approach in six of the zones. But Zone 7 could prove unlucky for black bears.

Police officers in some suburban towns don't like the idea of having to shoot an animal in close quarters - particularly if children are watching.

"If a bear is just wandering through the streets, I think that is a very stupid idea," said Capt. Roger Moore of Bergen County's Washington Township Police Department. "Why would we want to kill bears? Why not just relocate them? We're not going to go out and execute animals in front of people."

Mahwah Police Chief James Batelli said bears are generally a curiosity in his town. Because the homes in Mahwah are built on big lots, Batelli said, bears haven't posed much of a problem.

"The residents here tend to scare the bears away when they see them," Batelli said. "We haven't had too many problems with aggressive bears. But if that's the policy, then that's how we'll respond."

Environmental Commissioner Bradley Campbell signed off Tuesday on the new Black Bear Management Policy. Campbell's approval gave the go-ahead for New Jersey's six-day bear hunt to begin on Dec. 5.

Among the stated goals of the new policy is a reduction in the black bear population to the level of 2002, when an estimated 1,600 to 3,200 bears were believed to be in the state. The policy also calls for rewriting the state's "Don't Feed the Bears" law, which requires all residents living near bear habitats to properly maintain their garbage or face fines.

But the poorly worded law, adopted by the Legislature in 2002, has rarely been enforced. The new policy recommends the law be rewritten so it defines the difference between "intentional" and "unintentional" feeding.

Several animal rights groups, including the Humane Society of the United States, have threatened to file a lawsuit to block the hunt. No suit had been filed as of Thursday.

E-mail: [email protected]
 

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Well, here we go again, it's Richard "Mr. Agenda" Cowen. If you noticed, last article he wrote referred to the bear hunt as a "slaughter", hardly a neutral term from what should be a balanced article.

Now he starts off with the "bad news" which I suppose is forgivable in light of the fact that some journalists are enamored of bad puns. However, he can't resist giving the exact time and location of the "only safety course in North Jersey", almost as if he is calling out the anti's to protest there. I mean, it's the only chance you'll get in North Jersey folks, step right up and do what's right for the bears! Hurry, you only have until Monday to make your signs and practice your chants!

WHAT DO WE WANT?

To stop the bear hunt!!!

WHEN DO WE WANT IT?

Now!!!

/sigh

Giving the exact time and location contributes nothing to the story. Absolutely nothing. The story isn't about the seminar, it's about the hunt. So why bring up this exact yet totally unnecessary detail? Only Mr. Cowen can answer that, but I suspect that like the parasite he appears to be, he is looking to enhance himself and his agenda at the expense of others.
 

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They'll be in my crosshairs in December.
 
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