The only need for upcoming bear hunt is to appease pro-hunting cronies
By Nicole Rivard
Because Gov. Chris Christie lies, 1,871 black bears have died since he took office in 2009, and on Thursday Friends of Animals (FoA) and supporters called him out on how he lies to New Jersey residents and he trashes bears to cash in on campaign promises to pro-hunting groups, like the New Jersey Outdoors Alliance, who rallied for his election. Another heinous bear hunt—where bears are baited before being executed, is scheduled for Dec. 7-12.
FoA’s Campaigns Director Edita Birnkrant, appearing as a black bear, not only delivered the message to Christie to stop bear baiting and start educating the public about how to peacefully co-exist with black bears—including using bear-proof trash cans—she “delivered” Christie himself back to the New Jersey State House in Trenton from his doomed presidential run.
Onlookers took video and photos as Birnkrant untied a “hunted” Christie effigy from the top of her car, dumped him into a bear-resistant trash can and rolled him around in front of the State House.
Inside the State House, Friends of Animals and supporters disrupted business as usual, attempting to get inside the chamber where members of the General Assembly were gathering to try and override Christie’s veto of a gun safety bill. They chanted “Stop the bear hunt by executive order” and “Christie lies, black bears die,” before being escorted out by security.
State Sen. Raymond Lesniak (D-NJ), sponsor of the Bear Smart Bill, which would require use of bear-resistant containers, dumpsters or food boxes in certain areas located in black bear habitat under certain circumstances, including garbage collection, and prohibits certain actions that would result in feeding of black bears, joined Friends of Animals at the protest.
“Our goal is to not only make New Jersey the Garden State, but the humane state. And there is absolutely nothing humane about killing bears for fun. Because that’s what this is all about. This is not to protect the public,” Lesniak said.
“The way the public is protected is by having these bear-proof garbage containers and by passing my legislation that’s been languishing in both houses for two years. It would protect the public. Bears don’t want to come out of their habitat. They love where they are—unless we lure them out. And one way we lure them out is by baiting, and baiting isn’t hunting, it’s target shooting. And what’s worse, it gets bears accustomed to human food and products, the same food and products that end up in people’s unsecured garbage cans that they leave on the side of the road.
“There’s no proof whatsoever that bear hunts provide any safety to the public, but there’s lots of proof in many other states, Yosemite National Park in California being the best example, where secured-trash cans protect the public. Let’s kill the bear hunt and protect the public with these containers!”
According to NJ Division of Fish and Wildlife, 7,993 bear hunt permits were sold in 2014. While the permits cost only $2 each, combine that with the revenue from the firearm licenses also needed to participate in the bear hunt—which range from $15-$135 for seniors, residents and non-residents—and you see the thousands, potentially millions of dollars, that flow into the state from the bear slaughter.
It’s no wonder Christie and his cronies want to lie to the public, demonize bears and utterly fail to educate residents about bear-proof garbage cans and simple strategies to co-exist with bears in bear country. His lies costs bears their lives. Friends of Animals was horrified to learn that of the 404 bears gunned down in 2014, 65 were cubs; 83 were yearlings.