Update on NJ Black Bears -- Keep Calling Governor's Office Please!
- Update on the Plight of New Jersey's Black Bears - We need to keep the pressure on the Governor's Office - Please call again & call often!
Governor James McGreevey
Phone: 609-292-6000 (9 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. ET Monday - Friday)
(When you call they may ask how many people you are calling on behalf of. I counted up the number of my family members and gave that number.)
Lawsuit Filed to Stop New Jersey Bear Hunt on Federal Land
Trophy Hunting of Bears for First Time in 33 Years Violates Federal Environmental Laws
WASHINGTON, D.C. (December 1, 2003)�A coalition of wildlife protection organizations, hikers, and Native Americans filed suit here today in U.S. District Court to stop New Jersey�s first bear hunt in 33 years from taking place on the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area. The groups claim that allowing the bear hunt on protected park lands would violate federal environmental laws, and they bring the suit just two months after a federal court ruled that a similar hunting program at Cape Cod National Seashore was unlawful.
�Regardless of what happens on New Jersey�s state lands, national parks are unique and require special attention,� said Michael Markarian, President of The Fund for Animals. �The National Park Service has thumbed its nose at federal law by allowing the trophy hunting of bears without studying the potential impacts to the environment, to the bear population, and to rare species such as bald eagles.�
Delaware Water Gap encompasses more than 67,000 acres of protected park land which is home to more than 130 species of rare and endangered birds, mammals, and plants�including an extremely fragile population of wintering bald eagles who could be disturbed by bear hunters. The park represents approximately 20 percent of the total area open to New Jersey�s bear hunt, which is scheduled to begin next Monday.
�Bears are not a public safety threat in New Jersey, but thousands of bear hunters in our woods are the real danger,� said Sue Russell, Policy Director for the New Jersey-based Center for Animal Protection. �What our state needs to solve bear/human conflicts is not to shoot bears at random for trophies, but rather to implement a progressive policy of aversive conditioning, authentic public education, and bear habitat preservation.�
Steve Ember, a plaintiff in the suit and a prominent hike leader who has led hundreds of hikers into the Delaware Water Gap, added, �Almost every hiker I�ve known has been thrilled to see black bears in New Jersey. The experience of observing wild bears ranks among the highest benefits of hiking. We don�t want our bear population and our hiking experiences jeopardized.�
Public opinion polls demonstrate that New Jersey residents oppose the bear hunt. A poll commissioned this month by several New Jersey wildlife organizations found that 58 percent of registered New Jersey voters feel that the bear hunt should be stopped and 67 percent believe the state should use non-lethal methods to reduce bear-related incidents instead of having a hunt. Most voters�68 percent�say that Governor McGreevey should not have broken his campaign promise to support a five-year ban on bear hunting. Wayne Pacelle, a Senior Vice President for The Humane Society of the United States, added, �New Jersey voters will long remember Governor McGreevey turning his back on bears. If the governor won�t stand by his word, we will ask the court to prevent the circumvention of our federal environmental laws.�
�For many generations, the bear has lived in harmony with the Native Americans,� said Santos Hawk�s Blood, a plaintiff in the suit and a member of the Chiricahua Apache Nation and the Lone Warrior Society. �The bear is our four-legged relative who gave us the knowledge to heal ourselves. That is why we call him brother. While our brother bear has tried to share the land, his home, with us, he is blamed any time he shares the crops or the property of the people. He is called a �problem� even if human neglect, ignorance, or carelessness is really to blame.�
The plaintiffs include The Fund for Animals, The Center for Animal Protection, The Humane Society of the United States, and several individuals. They are represented by the public interest law firm Meyer & Glitzenstein.
A copy of the complaint filed today is available online at: www.fund.org/uploads/DWGcomplaint.pdf