Anti-bear hunt advocates threaten to withhold support to political candidates if hunt isn’t stopped
Environmental advocates are outraged over a plan to bring back the New Jersey bear hunt this fall. They are even threatening to withhold support to some state political candidates unless it is stopped.
Gov. Phil Murphy made it a big part of his political campaign to end the bear hunt. And he did for a time, but then brought it back last year after the state’s bear population grew.
“The residents hate the bear hunt. The residents are mad at Gov. Murphy and how he betrayed the bears,” says Doreen Frega, special projects director of the Animal Protection League of New Jersey.
The next bear hunt is expected to begin in October. Those who oppose the hunt say that if it isn’t stopped, they want voters to take it out on Democratic lawmakers at the ballot box in November. Every seat on the state Legislature is on the ballot.
“Stay home. Don’t vote for Democrats. Vote green or write in Yogi Bear,” says Frega. “Republicans are no better.”
Frega’s sentiments are echoed by others.
“We’re tired of the governor and his lies,” says Jeff Tittel, the former director of the New Jersey Sierra Club.
Tittel says that pledges by Democratic candidates won’t be enough. He says they need to take action to stop the hunt.
“There’s no purpose for the hunt this year. The numbers are essentially what they were in 2021,” he says.
The current hunt is scheduled to take place in Bergen, Hunterdon, Mercer, Morris, Passaic, Somerset and Sussex counties for one week in October and another week in December. State officials can extend the season for a week if not enough bears are culled.
A spokeswoman for Environmental Protection Commissioner Shaun LaTourette declined to comment about the issue.
Republican lawmakers are largely backing the bear hunt. State Assemblyman Parker Space wrote in a statement: “Bears have no natural predators, and without hunting, the number of bears could continue to multiply unchecked.”