9 Nov. 2010

MORRISTOWN, NEW JERSEY — The international advocacy group Friends of Animals and New Jersey group Lawyers in Defense of Animals announced support for the position of the Bear Education and Resource Group (BEAR Group), stating that Governor Chris Christie and Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Bob Martin have it all wrong on bears.

“If bears might live and thrive in New Jersey, we as state residents are highly fortunate people,” said Marie Ansari, secretary of Lawyers in Defense of Animals (LIDA).

“We’re the most densely populated state, human-wise. Co-existence with bears, a community in recovery, is a feat to be proud of.”

Said Lee Hall of Friends of Animals (FoA), “Bears have now been encountered in all 21 New Jersey counties. Their population is up from a weak three-figure number to a more viable four-figure number.”

Hall added, “This is excellent news for the eastern US biocommunity, and a testament to co-existence education undertaken by the BEAR Group and officials. New Jersey should be capable of seeing the glass as half full.”

LIDA and FoA oppose the killing of bears, and lauded the well-attended protest in Paramus on Saturday. The Record (published by the North Jersey Media Group) observed 100 people protesting New Jersey’s proposed killing plans (scheduled to take place Dec. 6-11) outside Borough Hall despite a bitter wind.

Doris Lin, Vice President of Legal Affairs for the BEAR Group, stated: “We welcome support from New Jersey’s Lawyers in Defense of Animals in this vital project to have bears understood and respected. We thank Friends of Animals, long-time champions of free-living animals’ interests, for educating their international membership about the bears who grace New Jersey, and our efforts to ensure a lasting, enlightened policy.”

“The governor has got this completely backwards,” said Friends of Animals board member Sally Malanga. “One has to wonder whether Gov. Chris Christie is intentionally ignoring the facts in order to provide a trophy hunt for certain supporters.”

Analysis by Edward A. Tavss, PhD shows New Jersey Fish and Game Council altered the method it had used since 1995 to tally bear incidents reported to the Department of Environmental Protection’s Division of Fish and Wildlife.

Beginning in 2007, the Council inexplicably changed its method and began adding duplicate complaints being made to the police. Dr. Tavss’s report shows that, if the single, original method is used to count complaints from 1995 to 2009, bear encounters have gone down.

Moreover, the study includes several incidents which were recorded by the Department of Environmental Protection Communication Center as simple bear sightings or “nuisances”- counted by Fish and Wildlife as serious threats.

Malanga called for an investigation to determine whether this skewing of the incident complaints was done intentionally.

“Rather than teaching our society to kill other living beings, we should be following the proven path of public awareness. Then we win, and our native animals win,” said Malanga, a resident of northern New Jersey.