First, let’s start off with the good news, this will be the last bear hunt while Governor Murphy is in office.
Senator Bob Toricelli, the Animal Protection League of New Jersey, the Sierra Club, the Humane Society of the United States, the Animal Welfare Institute and I, together with the hundreds of thousands of residents of New Jersey we represent, protest this year’s bear hunt.
We not only protest this year’s bear hunt, we also intend to insure that this will be the last bear hunt under any Governor of the State of New Jersey. In order or stop any further bear hunts, we will file a lawsuit to declare that the appointing process and the composition of the Fish & Game Council is unconstitutional because it allows the Sportsmen’s Clubs to dominate the makeup of the Fish and Game Council precluding the public from its decision-making thereby violating the Equal Protection Clause of the State and Federal Constitutions. It is an unconstitutional delegation of legislative authority and establishes animal cruelty as a permitted practice in the State of New Jersey.
Seven years ago, I introduced Bear Smart legislation to establish non-lethal means of bear management in New Jersey. Unfortunately, it went nowhere. Since then, thousands of bears have been slaughtered. Scientists with knowledge of Bear Management, not one of whom would be considered under the current law to sit on the Fish & Game Council, recognize that humans are a root cause of many of the encounters with bears and that focusing on killing bears for public safety is counterproductive. To most effectively reduce encounters between humans and bears, the central focus needs to be human behavior.”
Requiring that trash and food be disposed in secure containers is “bear smart.” Permitting the thousands of pounds of human food as bait throughout our woodlands during bear hunts as presently allowed is “bear dumb.”
The bear population belongs to all of us under the Public Trust Doctrine, the Common Law Principle that predates the Magna Carter.
To the hunters I say put down your guns, go back to your families, hug your children, and be content that you have made a positive contribution to the moral fabric of our society by not participating in the slaughter of our bear population.
New Jersey is better than this. Let this be the last time New Jersey allows the slaughter of our bears.
Ray Lesniak is the former state senator from LD20.