Today, the Animal Protection League of NJ and the Bear Education and Resource Group issued a press release demonstrating one example of the pseudo-science behind New Jersey's Comprehensive Black Bear Management Policy. While one of the purported reasons behind the hunt is the reduction of the bear population, the NJ Division of Fish and Wildlife's own data shows that bear hunting increases the bear population.
DFW's proposed 2010 Comprehensive Black Bear Management Policy states that the black bear population estimate in their research study area for 2009 is 3,400 bears (see page 4 here). However, when DFW was pushing for a bear hunt in 2005, they stated that the bear population in the research area in 2009 would be 2,694 if there were no further hunts after 2003. (See Figure 7 on page 38 here). DFW conducted a bear hunt in 2005, and their own data now shows that the bear population is 706 bears higher, a 26% increase, compared to what it would have been if there had been no hunt in 2005.
I'm not saying that bear hunting actually increases the bear population, or that any of DFW's data is to be believed. They're biased, and they've been making stuff up about bears and bear hunting for years. The significance is that it shows that DFW's own data does not support a bear hunt. Although I'm the VP of Legal Affairs for the BEAR Group and attorney for both the BEAR Group and APLNJ, I think the most unbiased scientist would look at this data and say that it can't be said to support the DFW's contention that a hunt will help reduce the bear population.
Speaking of unbiased scientists, today's press release comes on the heels of a press release on a report by Dr. Edward Tavss, a chemsitry professor at Rutgers University, that shows that bear complaints in NJ have actually been decreasing, not increasing as the DFW would have the public believe. The bear complaints were inflated by DFW when they counted many complaints twice or even three times. Dr. Tavss is neither a hunter nor an animal activist. He became interested when he heard conflicting information from the two sides in 2005, and decided to investigate the matter himself.
In 2005, Dr. Tavss came out with a report that compiled data from around North America that shows that bear hunting does not reduce bear complaints. Only non-lethal management has been proven effective for reducing human/bear conflicts.
So in short, the data shows:
- Bear hunting does not reduce nuisance complaints;
- Black bear complaints in NJ have been decreasing, not increasing; and
- Bear hunting causes the bear population to increase, not decrease.
The Policy has not yet been published in the NJ Register, which is required to make it official, but the publication is expected on November 15, 2010. The Fish & Game Council has a bear hunt scheduled to begin on December 6, 2010.
What You Can Do: You don't have to be a New Jersey resident to speak up for NJ black bears. To learn what you can do, visit the BEAR Group website.
Don Farrall / Getty Images
- Living with Black Bears
- Why the 2005 NJ Black Bear Hunt was Illegal
- Bear in Mind Conference at Rutgers
- NJ Comprehensive Black Bear Management Policy - full text
- Bear Education and Resource Group official site