Bear Kinship


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LETTERS

Bear perceptions mostly myths

Friday, March 21, 2008

To the Editor:

The opinion page recently has seen numerous letters about black bear hunting in New Jersey, written by both sides of the very controversial subject. One very noticeable topic that always seems to appear in letters by hunting enthusiasts is that opponents are out to deprive them of their right to hunt in New Jersey. As a member of the Bear Education and Research Group, I can flat-out state that nothing could be further from the truth.

Our mission is to dispel the myths that were instilled in us by our parents, outdoor magazines (with the snarling faces of bears) and false assertions that there is a bear at every school bus stop just waiting to eat our children. Our mission is education, awareness, and means of coexisting with the bear population.

After reading two letters, one writer implied that the writers were giving an impression of soft cuddly little bundles of fur, but he knew different, because he has hiked the woods and trails of Maine equipped with a sidearm for protection against attack from these ferocious killers.

In my research of black bear behavioral patterns, ecology, social organizations, vocalizations and relations to human beings, I have hiked the trails and scoured the woodlands of Minnesota, New Jersey and other states, and never once encountered a single act of aggression by a black bear. I have entered a den, retrieved a cub in front of the sow for health conditions, etc., and never was threatened or attacked.

There is little doubt that the two-sided issue will continue for some time, but there are two facts that have not changed. Despite fluctuating numbers and efforts to entice our youth and women into hunting, the decline in hunting enthusiasts and the public opposition to further bear hunts in favor of non-lethal management remains.

DAVID W. STEWART

Vernon

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