'Spare the Bears' protest to be held on final day of black bear bow hunting in Paramus
A Spare the Bears protest kicked off at the Paramus Municipal Building parking lot Saturday.
Saturday marked the final day for black bear bow hunting this month. The hunt ran from Oct. 12 until Oct. 17. The hunt will then resume from Dec. 7 to Dec. 12, and from the Dec. 16 to Dec. 19 for firearms only.
"The overall goal of today's events, it's really to call on the governor to cancel the December hunt. There's no reason for it. He said next year he's not going to have a hunt, and we hope that doesn't happen," said Jeff Tittel, director of the NJ Sierra Club.
Since the beginning of the hunt through Thursday, 286 bears have been killed.
The hunt is deemed as a management hunt in order to help reduce and maintain the bear population, but groups at the rally suggested other alternatives like education and not leaving food accessible for bears.
"If there was a need after we put together a real bear management plan, we would support it, provided it was a management plan not a trophy hunt," Tittel said.
Leaders of the demonstration said they not only rallied to save the bears, but also to stop the spread of the coronavirus during the bear hunt.
"There are hundreds, hundreds of hunters coming from out of state, coronavirus hot spots, out of state, unregulated coming into our state. It's a public health issue," said former state Sen. Raymond Lesniak, who is also filing a lawsuit against the New Jersey Fish and Game Council with the hope to provide more input on future hunts.
"If you're not a member of the Sportsmen's club, you can't be on the Fish Game Council. That's unconstitutional. It denies us equal protection under the law," Lesniak added.
According to the NJ Division of Fish and Wildlife website, the Fish and Game Council should be made up of three farmers, six sportsman, and two commercial fishermen.