Oct. 9 marked the beginning of the 2017 black bear massacre in New Jersey, which has been going on since 2010 when Governor Chris Christie began vilifying black bears to cash in on campaign promises to the NRA and other pro-hunting groups like the New Jersey Outdoors Alliance, who rallied for his election.

With the numbers of hunters having decreased by 14,000 in the last 5 years—less than one percent of New Jersey residents hunted in 2016—the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection is more desperate than ever to spread its bear hating propaganda to keep its hunter clients, attract more and convince the public black bears are a nuisance.

This year the agency has stooped to an all-time low—spreading the false claim that since the addition of the October hunt in 2016, overall bear complaints have dropped 55 percent, and Category 1 complaints involving encounters have dropped 65 percent. But the agency’s bear activity report for 2017 only measures data from Jan. 1 to Sept. 20, not from Jan. 1-Dec. 31 like its previous reports.

“Last year the hunt reintroduced bow-and-arrow hunting for the first time in 46 years. The number of hunters is plummeting…so why are the opportunities for violence increasing?” said Priscilla Feral, president of Friends of Animals.

Not that Friends of Animals’ trusts a hunting agency’s data, but its own reports actually show bear activity increased in 2011 and 2014 when the hunts were also occurring.

Also noteworthy is that incidences of bears getting into homeowners’ garbage and bird feeders have essentially stayed the same since 2010. That’s because killing bears won’t do anything to educate them not to be opportunistic feeders. It’s up to humans to change their behavior and use bear-resistant garbage cans and remove bird feeders from March-November, etc. It’s the DEP’s responsibility to educate residents, rather than creating trophy hunts.

“The most telling number of all, though, is the dwindling number of New Jersey residents who think violence towards animals is recreation. It’s a shame the state’s wildlife agency is working for the NRA rather than more than 99 percent of the residents,” Feral said.