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September 8, 2000

For more information contact:
Jim Sciascia at (609) 984-6295

Governor Christie Whitman today urged the New Jersey Fish and Game Council to suspend its proposed bear hunt and at the same time proposed strict guidelines for dealing more aggressively with problem bears. The Governor's strategy calls for implementing more aggressive response to problem bears, expanding education efforts and continuing and expanding research efforts.

"The Council proposed the bear hunt to address the problems of bear overpopulation and the increase in human/bear conflicts," said Division of Fish and Wildlife Assistant Director Marty McHugh. "We feel the alternative proposed by the Governor today will work toward accomplishing those same goals. The Governor's strategy makes clear that the problem bears will be dealt with more aggressively than they have been in the past and ensures that the Division will be provided with resources necessary to ensure this happens."

The Governor recognized in her letter that the proliferation of bears in New Jersey is a serious public safety problem. Her plan would result in the euthanization of all bears that pose a threat to the safety of people or property. This includes bears that enter homes, kill livestock, attack pets or exhibit aggressive behavior. Also, nuisance bears that are aversively conditioned but return to the same area would also be euthanized. In her letter to the Council, the Governor calls on all municipalities that have bear problems, including those that expressed concerns about the hunt, to establish agreements with the Division where local law enforcement officers will be trained to help respond to problem bears.

The Division currently has an extensive education program that would be expanded under the Governor's plan. The addition of education staff and greater use of television public education announcements and newspaper educational ads would be welcome additions to the existing educational effort. Black bear research and monitoring would also continue and be increased with the additional resources to help explore and develop all bear management alternatives.

Due to the request to suspend the hunt, the Division is canceling the black bear hunter education seminars that were scheduled from September 9-13 and will discontinue distributing black bear transportation tags until further notice.