New Jersey Bear Hunt Approved

Seth Victor

New Jersey has been talking about reinstating a bear hunt for some time, and it received final approval on Wednesday. The effort to curb the bear population is not dissimilar to other attempts to kill large mammals. The difference is that while ranchers have been a major supporter of wolf hunts under the questionable guise of livestock protection, the New Jersey bear hunt is backed both by recreational hunters and suburbanites. Questioning hunting is a whole separate debate. It’s the suburbanites that are really troubling. People saunter in, knock down a forest or field, and put up energy demanding houses. Somewhere between trying to get the sewer system to handle the sudden over-population of toilets and naming the neighborhood after what used to be there, a bear gets into a trash can, and suddenly the whole thing is the bear’s problem.

Now there will be six days of reckoning in December for the local bruins in northwest New Jersey (originally reports stated that the area would be north of I-78 and west of I-287. Now it seems the hunt will be north of I-80.). The hunt has been approved and supported by Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Bob Martin, even while state biologists predict that the hunt would not actual curb the bear population. The expected birth rate for New Jersey black bears is around 400 cubs, while the last two hunts in 2003 and 2005 yielded 328 kills and 298 kills, respectively.

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Deer Culling in Westchester — Rhetoric vs. Reality

I recently received the email below from my colleague (and occasional guest-blogger), Vanessa Merton.  I found the topic so interesting (and topical — see the panther post below) and the email such a good read that I asked her if I could post it on the blawg.  She agreed and so…

deer suburbs

David, I didn’t see this subject referenced on the blawg under “deer” or “hunting”, but I’m imagining that you’re well aware of the major deer “culling” (killing) movement developing all around our immediate area: in my little, recently highly gentrified, home town 12 miles from Times Square, we may have a major deer kill by this winter, probably executed (J) by sharpshooters or maybe bow hunters – see http://hastingsgov.org/W/EMAIL/2009/DEERUPDATE.html .  And of course, similar government-sponsored (not merely permitted, but sponsored) kills have been proposed for Westchester County parks — http://pqasb.pqarchiver.com/lohud/access/1719154751.html?FMT=ABS&date=May+17,+2009 – and across the Hudson in Rockland County — http://pqasb.pqarchiver.com/lohud/access/1723951371.html?FMT=ABS&date=May+21,+2009 .   (These “solutions”, billed as interim if not final, may soon embrace moose as well – see news story below.)

I recently sat through the first Hastings-on-Hudson legislative hearing on a deer hunt proposal and was struck by the intensity of the many advocates for mass killing and the frequency of their use of the term “rats with hooves.”  The “cull” (I wish I had time to look up the etymology of that word – it’s so exquisitely clinical) proponents proclaimed themselves “animal lovers” and said that those who opposed systematic killing of deer were NOT animal lovers but rather (with an acid tone of contempt) “deer lovers,” because deer so ravage the natural habitat, other wildlife are driven out or starved.  (I’m a little hazy on the mechanics of this phenomenon – the deer eat what skunks and possums and raccoons eat? — but apparently it’s all documented in the legislative report.)  That rhetoric adroitly raises the issue: what is the right position for an animal advocate when confronted with government proposals to exterminate or at least vastly reduce a given animal population such as rats, lice, bedbugs, mosquitoes, etc.?  (I have to tell you, if I could wave a wand or even fire a .22 and kill all the mosquitoes on earth, I’m pretty sure I’d do it.  The bats can learn to eat something else.)

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