New Jeresey Black Bear: Activity, Court Status and the New DEP Commissioner
New Jersey – -(AmmoLand.com)- Below is a very good article about the status of a black bear hunt in NJ. It is easily understood and highlights the courts decision that “The court invalidated the 2005 plan because the state had not met all the requirements set down in law on notifying the public about a new policy or policy change.
*** It did not rule on the validity of either side’s arguments about the plan itself.”***
Again, the courts did not rule that DEP has the power to establish or deny a bear hunt – or the validity of either sides plan.
There is currently an effort by ouitdoor groups to bring the issue back to the courts. This is something that the DEP wants to avoid since they may be vulnerable as to whether they have provided a sound bear management plan. This may undermine their position before the courts.
Bear Acitvity (incidents) have dramatically increased between 2007 and 2008.
- Category 1 incidsents/encounters (most serious) have increased by 2.5 times (112 to 276)
- Category 2 incidents/encounters have increased 2 times (726 to 1489)
- Category 3 have incidents/encounters increased 2 times (570 to 1059)
Efforts renewed for Black Bear Management plan
By BRUCE A. SCRUTON Newton (NJ) Herald Jan. 25, 2009
With a new acting commissioner in place at the state Department of Environmental Protection, the state’s Fish and Game Council has renewed efforts to get a black bear management plan in place.
The council, which has authority under the state Constitution to set hunting and fishing rules and regulations, had been stalemated with former commissioner Lisa Jackson over whether the state’s bear policy should contain provisions for a hunting season.
When Jackson left the department, first to become Gov. Jon S. Corzine’s chief of staff and more recently to head the federal Environmental Protection Agency, a career DEP official, Mark Mauriello, was named as acting commissioner.
“We sent him a letter, outlining the issue and updating him,” said Jeannette Vreeland, a member of the Fish and Game Council and its acting chairwoman. “We told him we are interested in working on the issue.”
Darlene Yuhas, spokeswoman for the DEP, said the commissioner has received the letter and the staff is “actively working with the council” on the bear management issue. She said she did not know if there had been face-to-face meetings or simply an exchange of letters or memos.
State courts have said the state must have a black bear management plan in place before the council can determine a hunting season. Len Wolgast, a member of the game council who was primary author of the council’s 2005 and 2007 management plan proposals, said he has been told Mauriello “is a much more reasonable man,” and hoped that being a career official within DEP, he might take biologists’ opinions more seriously.
Corzine has been adamant in his opposition to a bear hunt and those wishes were carried out by Jackson who, in 2006, suspended the 2005 bear management plan which had allowed hunts in 2003 and 2005 in the northwestern part of the state.
That plan became subject to two lawsuits, one filed by sportsmen’s groups and the other by animal rights groups.
The court invalidated the 2005 plan because the state had not met all the requirements set down in law on notifying the public about a new policy or policy change. It did not rule on the validity of either side’s arguments about the plan itself.
That decision came in 2007 and resulted in the council’s 2007 proposal, which offered a compromise.
Jackson’s position had been that non-lethal methods should be used to control the bear population and the number of bear-human encounters. While admitting that birth control is not an effective tool, she said education and control of garbage would be enough to lower the number of incidents involving bears.
The council’s proposal offered to give Jackson’s approach a year to work and said if incidents did not drop by 30 percent, a hunt would be held in 2008. If incidents didn’t drop another 30 percent, another hunt would be held in 2009.
Jackson rejected the proposal out-of-hand and said no plan would be adopted if it even mentioned a hunt.
According to the DEP’s figures on black bear complaints, the number of serious incidents rose last year by about 150 percent, from 112 in 2007 to 277 in 2008. All three categories of complaints more than doubled last year.
“There’s no doubt the problems with bears are growing, and we’re going to have more bears this year than last,” Vreeland said. “The time to act is now and a new policy, which includes a hunt, needs to be done.”
Ant Anthony P. Mauro, Sr. Chairman, New Jersey Outdoor Alliance: “Because a lot happens behind our backs while we’re enjoying the outdoors.” www.njoutdooralliance.org
NJOACF Council Members: Reef Rescue * NJ State Federation Sportsmen’s Clubs * Jersey Coast Anglers Association * Recreational Fishing Alliance * Trout Unlimited * National Wild Turkey Federation * NJ Beach Buggy Association * Hudson River Fishermen’s Association * United Bow Hunters NJ * New Jersey Council Diving Clubs * NJ Trappers Association * NJ Forestry Association * Society of American Foresters * Quail Unlimited * Ruffed Grouse Society * NJOA