The Wall Street Journal
1211 Avenue of the Americas
New York, NY 10036
Re: As Bears Multiply, Human Clashes Rise November 22, 2011
Readers should be apprised that state wildlife departments quoted in "As Bears Multiply" are partnered with firearms and archery trade associations. Irrespective of actual bear numbers, the "agency/industry" partnership promotes black bear hunting lotteries ("big game opportunities")to retain and recruit a sharply shrinking hunter-client base.
In short, and irrespective of in many cases inarguably low bear populations, the mésalliance is exploiting and merchandizing the American black bear.
Point to Point Communications, headed by former fur industry publicists and lobbyists,wrote the original, if self-serving, "bear clashes" report. "Bears in the Backyard," written by publicists, was published with federal aid to wildlife funds, and with the government's imprimatur.
The firm boasts of planting articles "on the front pages" of the New York Times and Wall Street Journal.
"He who gets the message out first, wins," says Point to Point.
The human-bear incidents cited are not representative or frequent, and, with sanitation and secured trash, completely preventable. New Jersey's game agency refuses to enforce the state's bear feeding law, and its game officials' estimates of black bear populations have been called "grossly exaggerated" by the country's foremost black bear expert.
Nor is the focus of the article coincidence: the industry's poll tester, Responsible Management, reports that when it comes to black bear hunts, the public rejects trophy and recreational motives: "controlling the population" gains the most support.
The Nevada Department of Wildlife's claim that the state's black bears are "expanding rapidly" is sheer nonsense. At 200-300 animals, the Nevada population is so low, and tenuous,that critics demanded the head of the department step down for allowing a trophy hunt replete with dog packs and bows.
The kill tally was 20 black bears. Urban sinks -- when human garbage lures backcountry bears to human centers, where the bears dies by cars, accidents, or guns - complicate the future of Nevada's black bear.
Black bear females reproduce slowly, typically birthing cubs every two years upon reaching maturity. That is why populations are so susceptible to being wiped out by trophy hunting. From 1958 to 1970, under New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife "scientific management," hunters eradicated the black bear throughout the state.
Last but not least, surveys across the country, from Alaska to Maryland to New Jersey,
confirm that the majority of citizens desire securing trash in bear-resistant bins and dumpsters. Whilst using "clashes" to justify lotteries, game agencies will never seriously pursue the programs.
Susan E. Russell
Wildlife Policy Specialist
League of Humane Voters of New Jersey
Bear Education and Resource Group
Animal Protection League of New Jersey