Calls For Corzine To Act Amid Increased Bear Attacks

Oroho, Mchose And Chiusano Call For Corzine To Act Amid Latest Report Showing Increase In Bear Attacks

New Jesery
New Jersey

Trenton, NJ –-( Responding to the latest monthly report by the state Division of Fish and Wildlife which shows serious bear-related incidents continue to increase, State Senator Steve Oroho, Assemblywoman Alison Littell McHose and Assemblyman Gary Chiusano today said it’s time the Corzine Administration stopped playing politics with the public’s safety and let wildlife experts decide the best method for handling the issue.

“It’s time Governor Corzine put aside politics and his personal feelings about hunting and look at the bigger picture,” said Oroho. “This is a serious matter of public safety. Adults and children alike in our communities are literally under attack because the bear population is not being adequately controlled. It’s obvious this administration’s alternate bear management policies are not working.”

The three Republican legislators who represent Sussex, Morris, and Hunterdon counties, all advocate for the return of a bear hunt to deal with a consistently dramatic upswing in bear-related complaints and damage incidents. Governor Corzine in October 2006 cancelled the bear hunt for that year and one has not been approved since 2005.

“The prospects for a human tragedy have never been greater, as aggressive bears are chasing children, knocking adults to the ground and breaking into homes and garages,” stated McHose. “Yet Governor Corzine refuses to take off his blinders. Instead of sitting back and hoping for the best, he should listen to the wildlife experts, study the scientific data and take appropriate and responsible action.”

According to the state Division of Fish and Wildlife’s report covering the period from June 21 to July 20, there were 29 Category One calls to DEP compared to 27 for the same period last year. Overall, there were 512 calls for the period this year compared to 407 calls in 2008, a 26 percent increase. ‘Category I’ complaints involve a serious risk to public safety or property damage in excess of $500.

For the year, there were 138 reported Category One calls, up from 121 for 2008, including a July 3 incident in Montague where a bear chased two girls into their house from their yard and then began scratching on the door once the girls were inside. Overall, calls to DEP about bear complaints have risen 22 percent with 1,726 calls received this year to date compared to 1,413 calls last year.

The report also noted that on June 29 a bear walked in off the road into a yard in Vernon where a party was being held and came within five feet of a three-year-old child. Two days earlier, a man reported being knocked to the ground by a bear that was after his sandwich.

“It’s clear Governor Corzine’s current bear management policies are an abject failure,” said Chiusano. “But instead of implementing a reasonable and science-based policy to deal with the escalating bear crisis, it’s also apparent he is allowing animal rights and anti-hunting groups to dictate public policy to the detriment of public safety.

“We’ve been fortunate so far, but we are definitely skating on thin ice,” he continued. “I fear it’s only a matter of time before tragedy strikes. The governor needs to take this matter seriously and put it in the hands of wildlife experts where it belongs.”

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