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CASH Courier > 2003 Fall / Winter 2004 Issue

Selected Articles from our newsletter

The C.A.S.H. Courier

IN REBELLION

By Stu Chaifetz

I hate fighting hunts in which victory means the status quo. Hate it. Even when you win these battles all the opposition has to do is wait you out, then attack again.

One of the few victories of the mid 1990's, which kept deer hunting out of the South Mountain Reservation, was turned around just a couple of years ago. In a sense, this is what happened when we beat the bear hunt in 2000; three years later they are back again, armed and slobbering for the kill.

But something wonderful has happened in this current battle for the bears, and it is important that it be known: There is a rebellion going on in New Jersey, and it is saving lives that we had not counted on.


Photo courtesy of Stu Chaifetz

Earlier this month, angered at the prospect of the forthcoming bear hunt, the town of West Milford closed all their municipal lands to hunting. Tuesday night, the Passaic County Freeholders, in defiance of the NJ Fish and Game Council, closed off all their county owned land to hunting.

Notice I didn't say 'bear' hunting. All hunting. Deer, geese, rabbit, whichever animals were being slaughtered on those lands is no longer legal. I have to note that it was already policy not to have hunting on Passaic County lands, but that it was never enforced, as a great deal of their property is contiguous with state land and is unmarked. I spoke with one parks official this morning who told me that because of this, there had been a tremendous amount of hunting on county property. Now the County is going to post their land and enforce the edict. The official told me of one area that consisted of 2,000 acres that was in prime hunting land. And there were other parcels of land that will be affected as well.

These actions are unprecedented and completely, utterly wonderful.

When you take all this into account, along with our sterilization program which, for the first time, offers a real alternative to hunting, we are not just fighting to keep the status quo; we are fighting to forever change the way we deal with our wild animals. And, though we've already won some important battles, the war looms ahead of us.

There are just more than five weeks before we lose 500 bears to bloody slaughter. And if we are to stop this, we are going to need help, much more than has been forthcoming. It is no longer good enough to limit actions to writing and calling. Though these have been important, we must now, as time slips quickly by, take the struggle to the Governor himself.

We did this when the Governor was at an event at Ringwood State park. 20 of us held banners and large pictures of dead bears as he spoke, making the point crystal clear that we would neither sit idly by nor be afraid to make a strong statement to him personally against this killing. Afterwards, he was bombarded by pleas from us to stop this hunt. It was an extremely important action. We need to do it again.

Beyond that, if you have a few vacation days and want to use them for a good cause please contact me.

I want to share a personal story. A few people had been trying to get me to go to bear country to see live bears in their environment. Though I had seen many bears previously, they all were dead, killed by hunters. For some reason, perhaps because I felt the hunt should be stopped before I saw them, I had always declined. Thankfully, this time I did not.

I met Samantha, the 'poster-bear' whose picture you may have seen in the pro-bear literature. There she was, no more than a foot in front of me, chowing down on some nuts, while her two cubs meandered about in the forest not far away.

I couldn't get over how much she reminded me of my dog, Athena, not only because she was similarly colored and in size, but in body language as well. In fact, she behaved a lot better than Athena does (for those few who have met Athena, you know what I am talking about) which only added to the surreal nature of the situation.

It was a truly magical event that had absolutely nothing to do with my proximity to this wild animal; it was when Samantha left and followed her children into the deep woods that the magic formed. Here, in New Jersey, the most developed state in the nation, the state that is literally mocked across the world, these majestic creatures found a way to live with us, in peace. And because of people who live in fear, and the greed born in selfish desires, 6,000 armed men are going to invade northern NJ, slaughter 500 bears, butcher them and keep their corpses as trophies.

On December 8, we risk forever losing the magic of co-existence. And it is with unfortunate confidence that I state that first they will kill the bears, then cut down the trees. The battle lines we draw, therefore, are not only for saving these 500 lives, but for also keeping our state from being completely paved over and developed.

Do not take comfort in the what others are doing; each of you has a role to play, and your action, or lack thereof, could tip the balance to victory or to destruction .

I ask you, all of you, to join the growing rebellion against the tyrannical rule of the Division of Fish and Game and the Fish and Game Council. The bears have already saved the lives of uncountable deer and other hunted animals. With your help, we can save the bears themselves, and do so much more.

This is neither a drill, nor a repetitive alert - it's a serious call for immediate action!

So, get on the phone, or better yet, write a short note and fax it, but do it tonight, tomorrow and into Monday. Overwhelming force is called for, and we shall provide it.

500 bears will be killed in less than three weeks - can we get 500 people to write a short letter and send it today? Lets go!

Governor James McGreevey, Phone: 609-292-6000, Fax: 609-292-3454

Stu Chaifetz, www.HonorAndNonViolence.com  

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