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Star-Ledger
State must aim for a hunt
Monday, November 14, 2005
Bears once found the northwest corner of the state spacious enough for comfortable living. Not anymore. This year bears have wandered into all 21 counties. They have moseyed through Woodbridge, traveled the backyards of Hudson County, broken into a dry cleaner's in Union and cooled off in Sandy Hook Bay. Can there be any question that the state needs another bear hunt?

We don't think so.

Within the next few weeks, Environmental Protection Commissioner Bradley Campbell will have to decide whether to go forward with New Jersey's second bear hunt in 33 years. The state Fish and Game Council says a hunt is necessary as part of an overall bear management program.

If Campbell gives the go- ahead, the hunt will be held from Dec. 5 to 10. Hunters who want to take part will be required to take a special class.

While no one knows the precise number of bears in New Jersey, biologists said in March that there are as many as three bears per square mile in parts of northwestern New Jersey. That is nowhere near the recommended one bear per 2.5 square miles. The spotting of bears far from their normal northern habitats also provides anecdotal evidence of overpopulation.

But no one suggests that a hunt is the only answer.

Last year the council pushed for a hunt and Campbell balked, saying he didn't think the evidence supported it. The issue ended up before the state Supreme Court, which ordered the commissioner and the council to devise a plan to control the bear population. The justices made it clear that a hunt alone did not constitute the type of comprehensive plan they had in mind.

The state's new bear management program includes trash control efforts, public education about bears, expanded research and continued experiments with birth control vaccines.

If Campbell concludes that the hunt is necessary -- and we can't see how he could reach a different conclusion -- his decision will be based on solid data.

Undoubtedly, opponents will pressure politicians to step in. But elected leaders should not substitute their opinions for the well-researched conclusions of professionals.
 

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Was this in the outdoor column or in the regular section. Not that it matters, but people would expect an outdoor writer to take that position. I think it would mean more coming some someone else.
Good article by the way.
 
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COCKZINE will whisper to CAMPBELL this: "IF YOU ALLOW A BEAR HUNT YOUR FIRED, AND I WILL MAKE SURE YOUR FUTURE IN POLITICS WILL BE DONE!!!!!" Then COCKZINE gives CAMPBELL a big :D
 
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