September 18, 2020

New Jersey's Bear Exclusion Zones

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It’s not Baghdad’s “green zone” nor is it the DMZ between North and South Korea. It’s designated areas in the state of New Jersey where bears aren’t permitted to go. The punishment? Death!

New Jersey has been at center stage over the past few years about its bears and bear hunting. The animal rights groups and anti-hunting groups have battled with the Department of Environmental Protection, which regulates bear hunting, to try to get any and all hunting of the black bear ceased.

They succeeded in 2004 shutting down a hunt only 4 days prior to the start. As part of the lawsuit, a judge ordered the DEP to come up with a bear management plan. Then DEP Commissioner Bradley Campbell, who has since ridden off into the sunset, agreed to adding the bear exclusion zones.

The bear exclusion zones where set up as an act of ignorance and spitefulness and now wildlife officers are forced to kill bears unneccessarily. Just recently a 225-pound black bear was found roaming about downtown Trenton, ironically only a few blocks from the offices of the DEP. The bear was captured and killed because it broke the law.

It was believed that a bear exclusion zone should be set up to keep bears from interacting with humans and other residents complained that when officials would trap a bear for relocation, it clearly became, “Not in my backyard!”

In short this is what New Jersey is telling the rest of the world: We don’t want bears in our state, well at least not in anyone’s backyard. We don’t want hunters to be utilized to keep populations in check. We do want to kill any bears that cross the line and we need to teach people how to live with the bears. Can there be any more of a contradiction?
I’m confused!

Tom Remington

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