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Vote Against Open Bear Hunting Season

Wildlife Watch Inc.
Helping People, Environment, and Wildlife
PO BOX 562, NEW PALTZ, NY 12561
Voice:(845) 256-1400; Fax:(845) 622-7999
e-mail: wildwatch@earthlink.net
Contact: Joe Miele, Vice President 201-368-8271

The Honorable Margaret Nordstrom
Morris County Freeholders

Administration & Records Building
Court Street
Morristown, NJ 07860

June 12, 2003

Dear Ms. Nordstrom:

Wildlife Watch, Inc. is an animal protection organization that seeks to educate the public about the mismanagement of wildlife by state and federal wildlife agencies, and the destruction of wildlife and ecosystems in the name of sport hunting and game management.  On behalf of our members and supporters in New Jersey, we respectfully urge you and the Board of Chosen Freeholders to consider passing a resolution against the New Jersey Fish and Game Councilís decision to open a bear hunting season, as the Passaic County Freeholders saw fit to do on June 11. 

As a member of the Fish and Game Council, you know that the decision to open a bear hunting season was done for illegitimate reasons.  The Council seeks to increase recreational hunting (trophy hunting) in an attempt to raise revenue by selling more hunting licenses.  Since the salaries of Division of Fish and Wildlife employees are funded by the sale of hunting licenses, the decreasing number of active hunters in the state has made the Division desperate for ways to sell licenses and permits.  Opening a bear hunting season, regardless of the faulty science backing it up, is a way to increase needed revenue.  We thank you for voting against the hunt when the Council made itís decision.

The population estimates publicized by the Division are questioned by many students of wildlife, including Bradley Campbell, the Commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection.  In a letter to the Council dated March 6, 2003, Mr. Campbell stated that an independent panel estimated the bear population could be as low as 1350 animals.  This figure is in stark contrast to the population estimate of 3278 that the Division has been pushing.

Why is the Divisionís estimate so out of line with reality?  In an interview published in the February 2001 issue of "Field and Stream" magazine, the Division's bear biologist Patrick Carr, was interviewed.  The article stated: ďPart of $2 million appropriation from the state's legislature is earmarked for bear research, and Carr believes that it will allow him and his colleagues to make an even better case for bear hunting."

Mr. Carr and the Division of Fish and Wildlife have no interest in objective data.  They have no interest in any testimonials by people living in
Morris County who enjoy sharing their environment with bears.  They have an interest only in pandering to the fewer than two percent of New Jersey residents who engage in recreational hunting.  This tiny minority is the constituency of the Division, and all decisions are made on their behalf. 

The people of Morris County do not want hunters from all over the state converging on their towns and communities shooting at our black bears.  They do not want hunters trespassing on their property with deadly weapons pursuing wounded and dying bears.  They do not want to deal with a close encounter between their children and a hunter or a mortally wounded bear. 

Trophy hunting will not stop nuisance complaints, nor will it educate the public as to the proper way to coexist peacefully with these magnificent animals.  With the Division looking to distribute 10,000 bear hunting permits, the hunt has the ability to completely wipe out the bear population in the state.

The Division of Fish and Wildlife is an agency that is out of touch with the desires of the residents of Morris County.  It operates without public oversight.  They address problems by shooting first and asking questions later.  Shooting is their sustenance.  Our members and supporters in Morris County and throughout the state urge you and the Freeholders to protect your residents and pass a resolution against bear hunting in New Jersey.  Your response will be greatly appreciated.

Sincerely,

Joe Miele
New Jersey Field Office

Cc: Members of the Morris County Board of Chosen Freeholders
 

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