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Despite Opponents, NJ Black Bear Hunt Gets Underway

By Molly Daly

TRENTON, N.J. (CBS) -- Days after an appellate court refused to block it, New Jersey's six-day bear hunt started today.

Animal rights groups had tried to stop the hunt, arguing that the state was using flawed data to justify it.

"The whole motive behind this hunt, for the state, is to increase a declining hunter base," says Angie Metler of the Animal Protection Society.  "The sales of hunting licenses in New Jersey has declined by 43 percent, so big game species are a draw."

But Larry Ragonese of the state's Department of Environmental Protection says the hunt is intended to gradually reduce the black bear population -- one part of a plan that includes education, research, and -- given the bears' taste for leftovers -- trash management.

Story continues below photo...

(A bear forages in a trash dumpster. Photo from NJ DEP)


"Our job here is to manage the ecosystem, and it's to try to figure out what we can sustain and how we can coexist. And right now, there are too many bears to provide for a comfortable coexistence," Ragonese tells KYW Newsradio.


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