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Sierra Club Opposes Bear Hunt

Date : Tue, 11 May 2010 15:58:31 -0400

Sierra Club Opposes Bear Hunt Contact Jeff Tittel, 609-558-9100 May 11, 2010

The Sierra Club strongly opposes the Fish and Game Council Black Bear Management Plan. This is not a plan. It is an excuse for a hunt. This is basically a recreational bear hunt that does not sufficiently manage the black bear population in New Jersey or look at alternative strategies to manage black bears. The Sierra Club supports an effective bear management plan that combines non-lethal methods of dealing with bears, public education, and steps that properly handle garbage. This is not an effective bear management plan.

"This hunt is unbearable. This is not how you manage black bears. This is just an excuse for a recreational hunt that will undermine a real black bear management plan," said Jeff Tittel, New Jersey Sierra Club Director.

New Jersey has basically eliminated funds for bear management, including cutting the bear warden program as well as reducing funds for conservation officers, cutting education programs and bear aversion therapy, and other non-lethal methods of management. Commissioner Martin never met with groups that are working on non-lethal management plans. Because of the cuts, there are not enough conservation officers to deal with the complaints and bear-human interactions. By cutting funds, the state has eliminated the possibility of any type of effective bear management program and is now looking towards a hunt, which will not solve the problem of nuisance bears.

Human-bear interactions and bear-related complaints can often be attributed to a singular nuisance bear within a region. These bears are living behind sheds and under decks and will not be targeted by the bear hunt. The bears that will ultimately pay the price of a hunt will be those living in the forests that do not venture into neighborhoods and communities. Eliminating these docile bears is not part an effective bear management plan.

The most important component in an effective bear management plan is education. More than half a million New Jerseyans live in bear country, but many of them do not have the expertise or experience to understand bears and know how to avoid confrontations with them. At the most basic level, people need to be taught that bears are wild animals and should be treated with respect and from a distance. People must be educated that feeding bears as they would pets is dangerous and will lead to aggressive behavior in the future.

This is a recreational hunt. Most of the hunting will occur in public lands in the middle of the forests, not in the areas where Category II, or nuisance bears, are living. A real management hunt would be a zonal hunt where hunters start at the perimeter of each of zone and move from where the development is toward the center of the zone, trying to eliminate bears living closest to human populations.

The current policy of getting rid of problem bears is working. The bears proved to be aggressive are euthanized, eliminating bears that are the biggest threat to the public or property. This is not a real plan to properly manage of Category II bears.

People in bear country need to bear proof their property, removing bird feeders and putting electric fences around compost piles. Sources of food and anything that attracts bears needs to be removed.

Whether or not there is a hunt, New Jersey must deal with garbage or we'll keep creating nuisance bears. Without a concerted effort to codify and enforce requirements on garbage, other bear policies will fail. Garbage is a source of food for bears. If an abundant supply of trash is readily available, the bear population will increase and bears will become more aggressive as they learn that houses are good places to find food.

"The state needs to mandate no garbage out at night, bear-proof containers and locking dumpsters. If we don't do something about garbage, no matter what there will always be bear problems in New Jersey," Tittel said. "This plan is GARBAGE since it fails to deal with the most important issue - garbage."

What new jersey needs to do to manage its bear population:

* Protecting habitat: Every year the state loses 8,000-10,000 acres of land in bear country. The more we build houses in the middle of the woods where bears live, the more conflict we will see between bears and humans.

* Non-lethal methods of dealing with conflicts between bears and humans: One of the most important programs that has been cut is bear aversion therapy, which trains bears to be afraid of humans and, thus, to avoid them.

* Bear-proofing important public areas: The state should work with towns and municipalities to put up fencing and take other steps to keep bears out of key areas, such as playgrounds.

* Working with farmers: The state needs to cooperate with the agricultural sector to provide small grants to farmers that allow them to bear-proof their properties and protect them from potential damage.

* Conservation officers: The state should have conservation officers and bear wardens to address bear complaints and educate the public about bears.

* Garbage: The state must mandate no garbage out at night, as well bear-proof containers and locking dumpsters.

* Education: People living in bear country need to be educated about bear-proofing and how to deal with a bear on their property.

"The black bear is a symbol that we still have wild places in New Jersey and the whole state has not been paved over with subdivisions and strip malls," Tittel said. "As New Jersey continues to suburbanize and more people move into bear country, we should be managing bears and protecting habitat instead of getting rid of the bears. We shouldn't have a hunt just because it may be hard to sell condos in Vernon to people in Brooklyn because there are bears in the area."

Christine Guhl Program Assistant New Jersey Sierra Club

145 W. Hanover Street Trenton, NJ 08618 Tel: (609) 656-7612 Fax: (609) 656-7618

Received on 2010-05-11 12:58:31

New Jersey Sierra Club, 145 West Hanover St., Trenton, NJ 08618, USA
tel: 609 656 7612, fax 609 656 7618
or email Nicole Dallara, Outreach Coordinator, at

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