Saturday, August 6, 2011

Damned if they do -- or don't

Early last Wednesday -- some eight months after New Jersey’s notorious December 2010 bear hunt -- a young black bear wandered into a campsite in Sussex County’s Stokes State Forest.

Estimated at 150 pounds, the yearling reportedly reached into a tent, grabbed a boy’s foot and tried to pull him out. He then went to a second tent and took a swipe at a second boy before “scampering” away.

The 12- and 11-year olds suffered “superficial wounds,” according to a DEP spokesperson quoted in the Times of Trenton story. When the bear returned, “tearing through the camp,” group leaders followed guidelines including calling for help. In response, a “conservation officer” (you read it right, “conservation”) shot the bear in the neck, wounding it.

The bear ran into the woods, pursued by DEP’s bear response team with their snares and traps – and intentions of shooting the bear, described as aggressive and “a Category One Bear.”

Next day the same newspaper reported errors in the first day’s account: The bear had not injured the boys (their scratches and abrasions were not fresh); furthermore, the two boys had not claimed they were struck by the bear (a case of adult, and/or DEP, overreaction?).

But there was consistency in one part of the story: despite any corrections, including the fact that the bear did not attack humans, wildlife officials still plan to shoot him or her.

Among the many other distasteful things they are, these people are cruelly trigger-happy when it comes to bears. New Jersey (led by the Fish and Wildlife Division of the Dept. of Environmental Protection) offers black bears neither mercy nor justice.

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