ON OCTOBER 9, 2002 WILDLIFE WATCH/C.A.S.H. SUBMITTED THE
FOLLOWING COMMENTS TO THE NJ ASSEMBLY AGRICULTURE COMMITTEE AND ASSEMBLY
ENVIRONMENT COMMITTEE HEARING ON BLACK BEAR HUNTING
INVESTIGATION NEEDED OF THE DIVISION OF FISH AND WILDLIFE
(DFW) OF THE NJ DEPARTMENT OF ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION (DEP)
Sadly, there are less than 2,000 black bears in NJ, yet the game agencies
are pushing, as they have been since Christy Whitman was Governor, to hunt
It is time that the legislature of NJ begins to investigate or review
practices of the Fish and Wildlife Division of the DEP. Their management
of "game" species for deliberate increase via the manipulation of public lands
should come under public scrutiny. Those who make a study of "wildlife
management" have known for years that the Division of Fish and Wildlife is
the cause of "human-wildlife conflicts," and with the death of
Schwimmer in NY, as aberrant as it was, management for hunting can no longer
According to the official website of the NJ Department of Environmental
Protection (DEP) Division of Fish and Wildlife (DFW), as of May 15th,
2002, NJ had 118 Wildlife
Management Areas covering 276,000 acres. Additionally, PSE&G maintains
four areas for public fish and wildlife associated recreation activities.
It’s on those lands that the habitat for wildlife is manipulated to increase
"game" or "game-to-be" populations.
A simple perusal of the web pages of the DFW shows that this division
basically operating to promote the killing of wildlife. How possibly can
hunting "season" be sustained year after year unless the wildlife
manage wild animals into high populations for profit? They manage wildlife
for hunting permit fees and excise taxes on hunting weapons. Those monies
never leave the Bureau to benefit the general public, but are used to
perpetuate hunting and the existence of the Bureau.
At least the excise taxes on alcohol and tobacco go into the General
to pay for education and health care. In the case of firearms and other
weaponry, excise taxes simply pay for more hunting opportunity to keep up
the sale of those products. It’s like using the excise tax from alcohol
solely to open more bars to promote more drinking!
Little does the DFW want that fact known to a public that believes they
are the guardians of wildlife. In the wake of Esty Schwimmer’s death, to
resolve the human-animal conflicts that occur, an urgent investigation is
needed to see if wildlife management itself plays a role – if not the major
– or even sole role. Simplistically allowing hunting would be to obscure
fact that the management for hunting itself is the problem.
Managing wildlife to be hunted deliberately and necessarily increases
populations of hunted species. That in turn inconveniences people, causes
crop depredation, and places the public and wildlife at risk of injury or
Hunting creates other types of problems for wildlife and the public.
killing of large female "trophy" bears leaves youngsters without
an elder to
teach them the ways of the world. It takes time for a bear to learn from
or her elder to harvest food, find water, and avoid danger from humans.
The DFW works without public scrutiny on wildlife management areas
throughout the state. They create ideal habitat conditions primarily for
those species managed for hunting. NY’s Sullivan County, where the little
girl was killed, has two of the largest wildlife management areas in the
state. The Bashakill is 2,213 acres and the Mongaup Valley is almost 12,000
acres of prime bear-growing, deer-growing habitat.
In NY, a Bureau of Wildlife report details a management technique to
ensure a continuing supply of bears whose numbers dwindle after hunting.
suggests delaying the onset of bear hunting by one week after the start of
deer hunting. Managers report that it gives the mothers a chance to den
the cubs, ensuring that the males will be the more likely sex to be shot.
That’s good for the trophy hunters who are looking for large black bears,
and it allows mom to live to bear more young. It is precisely what BOW
BOW profits from big game permits and from excise taxes on weapons used
to kill bear and deer; they profit from bear chasing with dog packs.
fact, from July through October, they permit hunters to chase bears with
packs of dogs, sending the bears across roads, into towns, and onto private
properties. There have been documented car-bear collisions as a result
of "bear chasing." They profit from taxidermy, they profit from fees paid to
them by private hunt operations that do their own management for bear and
other trophy species. They even "regulate" the sale of bear body parts. This
bureau has turned a deaf ear and a blind eye to the public’s concern over
depredation, collisions, nuisance, injury and even death. They have
certainly been thoroughly callous when it comes to the wild animals who
endure so much misery.
There is no doubt that the wildlife mangers of NJ have looked jealously
upon NY’s bear season for years. There’s no doubt that they have provided
will provide you with all of their reasons for the need for bear hunting.
ask that you keep in mind that their true motivation is their own existence.
Wildlife management is needed. But the links to the firearms industry
must be severed. The policies and ethic must change so that wildlife are not
managed to be targets. The agents themselves should be chosen for their
humane concern for individual wild animals, ecology, and the public
interest. Should it be determined that there is a real need to lower the
bear population, then the method for doing so should be humane, and a
competent plan designed that satisfies the humane movement that NJ cares
about its bears.
Wildlife Watch would like to ask the NJ Legislature for an investigation
into DFW’s management for the future of bear hunting. If it is found that
the population has increased due to the intentional management of this
species either pro-actively or by creating conditions for an increase, then
the DFW must be held accountable. If, on the other hand, it is found that
that the legislature or a legislator has knowingly caved into the DFW’s
plans to initiate hunting in the Garden State, then the State and those
legislators must be held accountable for the impact on the public and