Animal rights advocates sue to stop NJ bear hunt

Bear hunt

December 1, 2010 3:49:34 AM PST
Animal rights activists who sued New Jersey on behalf of black bears in 2007 are going back to court to try to stop a scheduled bear hunt from starting Monday.

Doris Lin, a lawyer for the Animal Protection League of New Jersey and the Bear Education and Resource Group, hopes to block the six-day hunt sanctioned by the state in seven northwestern counties to thin the black bear population.

In 2007, Lin argued successfully that the state's black bear management policy, which called for a hunt, wasn't properly developed. No hunt was held.

In the new lawsuit, she claims little has changed.

"The Comprehensive Black Bear Management Policy is full of scientific flaws and outright fabrications," Lin said Tuesday.

"In their zeal to hold a recreational trophy hunt, the council has slapped together a scientifically sloppy, self-contradictory document that pretends the hunt is necessary when in fact, the science does not support a hunt."

Environmental Commissioner Bob Martin signed off on this year's hunt, saying it's needed to help control a growing black bear population. The agency estimates the state's black bear population at 3,400, up from 500 bears in 1992.

"The bear hunt is not a standalone event," said DEP communication director Angelene Taccini. "It is part of a comprehensive bear management policy."

The state's response to the suit is due Thursday.

New Jersey had bear hunts in 2003 and 2005, the first since the early 1970s.

APL and the group Showing Animals Respect and Kindness planned to file a joint complaint with state election officials Wednesday alleging that the political arm of the pro-hunting group New Jersey Outdoor Alliance violated state election law by failing to report sponsoring a Christie rally 11 days before last year's election.

The complaint alleges that the group's political action committee spent five times the legal limit for contributions, and that neither the group nor Christie's campaign reported the donation.

The complaint alleges that after Christie won, he appointed the PAC's president to his environmental transition team.

"Soon thereafter, a black bear hunting season was approved," group spokesman Stuart Chaifetz said.

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