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N.J. Council Authorizes Bear Hunt

July 20, 2004

UPPER FREEHOLD, N.J. (AP) _ New Jersey’s Fish and Game Council gave final approval Tuesday to plans for a 2004 bear hunt, drawing immediate opposition from the state environmental commissioner, who said he would instruct wildlife officials not to issue the hunting permits.

The council, which sets the game code and determines the dates of the hunting seasons, voted in support of a December hunt, one year after New Jersey’s first bear hunt in more than three decades. The hunts are intended to decrease New Jersey’s growing black bear population, estimated last year at 3,200.

Environmental Commissioner Bradley Campbell criticized the decision, saying there needed to be a high degree of confidence in the data from last year’s hunt before another is authorized.

Campbell oversees the state Division of Fish and Wildlife, which issues licenses and is charged with regulating hunting.

State wildlife officials say 328 bears were killed in last year’s hunt, and said Tuesday about 500 cubs were expected to be born this year.

``The only way to reduce the numbers is through a hunt,″ said George Howard, a member of the council who voted in favor of the hunt.

Campbell supported the first hunt, but has since urged greater use of public awareness programs and more stringent enforcement of a state law prohibiting the feeding of bears, and requiring home and business owners to secure trash receptacles.

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On the Net:

Division of Fish and Wildlife: http://www.state.nj.us/dep/fgw

Bear Education and Resource Group: http://www.savenjbears.com

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