RE: (PA - US) Penna. announces a record bear kill
- Source: The Philadelphia Enquirer
Posted on Thu, Feb. 02, 2006Penna. announces a record bear kill
By Don SapatkinInquirer Staff Writer
While New Jersey continues to debate whether hunting black bears is ethical or necessary, the Pennsylvania Game Commission yesterday announced not just a record bear kill but one that exceeded the state's previous all-time record by a whopping 35 percent.
Under the headline "Pennsylvania hunters post incredible bear harvest record," the agency said the official final tally for the two seasons - three days before Thanksgiving statewide plus six days after Thanksgiving in designated areas - was 4,164.
The previous record of 3,075 was set in 2000, before extended seasons were added in more than a dozen counties, mainly in the northeast, where wildlife biologists believed extra measures were needed to control surging bear populations.
Pennsylvania has held bear hunts in 96 of the last 100 years, and game commission officials said opposition is rare. New Jersey, by contrast, held its first, highly controversial bear hunt in more than three decades in 2003, after wildlife biologists concluded it was the best way to reverse the growth in bear populations in northwestern counties.
Numerous protests and lawsuits filed by animal-rights groups led to a cancellation of the Garden State hunt in 2004, and then a reinstatement - cleared at the last minute by the state Supreme Court - in 2005. December's six-day hunt resulted in a preliminary harvest total of 298 statewide.
The tug of war is likely to continue as bear-hunting bills await action in Trenton and Gov. Corzine sets policy of all kinds, including those involving animals and hunting.
"We see this as a new day for the administration on these issues," said Michael Markarian, executive vice president of the Humane Society of the United States, a leader in the bear-hunt fight. He quickly produced a partial transcript from a September gubernatorial debate that quoted Corzine as saying: "I'm actually not in favor of bear hunts based on the scientific information I've seen... ."
Asked for comment, a spokeswoman for the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, which oversees hunting and wildlife issues, said last night that it was too soon to respond.