In all of New Jersey’s recorded history, not one human being has been killed or seriously injured by a black bear. Black bears have every interest in avoiding humans, provided humans do not lure them unnecessarily.
In 2003, 328 bears were killed in response to complaints about “problem” bears. Bradley M. Campbell, the commissioner of the state’s Department of Environmental Protection, blocked a proposed hunt in late 2004, saying the state would be better off exploring other management tools such as contraception and public awareness campaigns. The State Supreme Court sided with Mr. Campbell and ruled that a hunt could not be held until a comprehensive plan was approved.
Winthrop Staples III, a Wildlife Technician at Alaska’s Denali National Park and Preserve, advised that bear reduction “is not required, and that denying bears human food has been proved to eliminate most bear-human conflict.” Staples adds that killing bears “is strictly for human convenience, or is cheaper than using bear-proof garbage containers.”
Tragically, Commissioner Campbell has announced a bear hunt for the state of New Jersey starting December 5, 2005. Friends of Animals opposes the offensive bear hunt, and encourages others to non-violently dissent against this killing.
Sound waste management, not hunting, will best serve New Jersey and its visitors. And teaching a sound environmental ethic, one that fosters respect and appreciation for our region’s black bears, benefits us all.