‘Re­al­ity of NJ Bear Hunt’

The Trentonian (Trenton, NJ) - - OPINION -

It is a priv­i­lege for many of us to be able to hike, camp or live in an area where black bears roam. Their timid at­ti­tude serves them well, when star­tled they run away or climb a tree. Bears be­ing bears or act­ing nat­u­rally are blame­less. We need to stop per­se­cut­ing bears and other an­i­mals for be­ing them­selves. Bears only come around peo­ple when there is food avail­able. Bears do not con­sider peo­ple food. Bears are rarely dan­ger­ous to peo­ple. Co-ex­is­tence with bears comes with re­spon­si­bil­ity. Do not ap­proach an­i­mals in the wild, re­spect their habi­tat, and never feed wildlife. Se­cur­ing garbage and food is the most ef­fec­tive means of lim­it­ing hu­man bear in­ter­ac­tions. Ed­u­ca­tion is im­por­tant be­cause the great­est prob­lems that black bears face are hu­man mis­con­cep­tions that lead to ex­ces­sive fear. The num­ber of bears who peo­ple will tol­er­ate, also called the cul­tural car­ry­ing ca­pac­ity as op­posed to bi­o­log­i­cal car­ry­ing ca­pac­ity, de­pends upon hu­man at­ti­tudes.

The New Jer­sey bear hunt is not in the in­ter­est of pub­lic safety. The New Jer­sey Di­vi­sion of Fish and Wildlife does not pro­tect wildlife. Its ex­is­tence is con­tin­gent on killing an­i­mals, like black bears and deer. Recre­ational hunt­ing is both in­ef­fi­cient and coun­ter­pro­duc­tive. A bear hunt will not help re­duce the num­ber of bear/ hu­man in­ter­ac­tions and can lead to in­creased nui­sance be­hav­ior. Tro­phy hunt­ing or recre­ational sport hunt­ing is the kind of an­i­mal killing that most re­sem­bles mur­der. It is pre­med­i­tated and with­out jus­ti­fi­ca­tion. The an­i­mals are in­no­cent vic­tims killed for egograt­i­fi­ca­tion and fun. Ac­cord­ing to a hun­ters’ mind­set an­i­mals are “game” whose lives have no value. Hunt­ing is not sound sci­ence. It is sound fun for un­sound in­di­vid­u­als who com­mit cow­ardly acts. The only ex­cuse to kill and eat an­i­mals would be purely for sur­vival. But this sce­nario is rare. Psy­cho­log­i­cally speak­ing, there is lit­tle dif­fer­ence be­tween killing an­i­mals and killing hu­man be­ings. Re­peated sci­en­tific stud­ies have shown a strong cor­re­la­tion be­tween an­i­mal cru­elty and vi­o­lence to­wards hu­mans. Some­one who can cause pain and suf­fer­ing to an an­i­mal with­out feel­ing any em­pa­thy to­wards that liv­ing crea­ture is likely to have that same dis­con­nect when deal­ing with hu­man be­ings. We need leg­is­la­tors and a Gover­nor who will stand up for an­i­mal rights, not an­i­mal wrongs. Put the weapons down and shoot with a cam­era.

— Kim Nagel­hout, Park Ridge, NJ; Direc­tor of Spe­cial Events, Re­search & Cre­ative Ed­u­ca­tion – NJ Bear Group

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