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Hunt score: 216 bears, 4 protesters

Associated Press 12/08/05 Philadelphia Daily News

VERNON, N.J. - Four opponents of the ongoing bear hunt in New Jersey were arrested yesterday, charged with interfering with hunters under the state's hunter harassment laws, officials said.

There were conflicting versions of the events leading to the arrests, which came on the third day of a hunt that has netted at least 216 bears so far.

Angela Metler, 49, of Highland Lakes, director of the New Jersey Animal Rights Alliance, which had unsuccessfully sued to stop the six-day hunt, was among those arrested. Also arrested were Theresa Fritzges, 57, of East Windsor; Albert Kazemian, 49, of Highland Lakes, and Janet Piszar, 52, of Millburn.

Arrested in Wawayanda State Park, all four were charged with hunter harassment, disorderly persons, resisting arrest and obstructing the administration of law, according to Martin McHugh, director of the state Division of Fish and Wildlife.

Kazemian also was charged with making terroristic threats, McHugh said.

"From what I understand, the hunters were walking down a path and the anti-hunt activists got in their way and refused to move. They had a video recorder and they were verbally abusing the hunters," McHugh said.

In New Jersey, it is illegal to obstruct or make physical contact with a person who is legally hunting, to get in between a hunter and his or her prey or to attempt to influence the behavior of the prey to interfere with the hunting. Violations are punishable by fines of between $100 and $500.

The Bear Education and Resource Group, which had joined the Animal Rights Alliance in the court challenge, claimed the arrests stemmed from a "sting operation" orchestrated by two hunters, as well as park rangers and Division of Fish and Wildlife staff.

The activists couldn't be reached for comment.

The hunt, New Jersey's second in 35 years, is being held to reduce the number of black bears in the wake of rising numbers of nuisance complaints and bear sightings.


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