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Animal rights group tells members not to back Democrats unless bear hunt is cancelled

Tittel: Murphy has ‘not been better than Christie’ on the environment

By Ricky Suta, September 12 2023 3:57 pm

The League of Humane Voters of New Jersey told New Jerseyans today not to vote for Democrats running for the legislature this year unless they take concrete action to stop the black bear hunt that is proposed to start in October.

The group called on Democrats to urge Shawn LaTourette, the commissioner of the Department of Environmental Protection, to reject the proposed bear hunt policy that would allow two one-week hunts through 2028, which was approved by the Fish and Game Council earlier this month.

“If they won’t stand up for the bears, why should we stand up for them,” asked Jeffrey Tittel, the former Director of the New Jersey Sierra Club.

If the policy is not rejected, the group is specifically putting Democrats running in the 4th, 11th, 14th, 16th, 17th, 18th, 36th, and 38th districts on notice. It is not clear whether there is such a large number of single-issue anti-hunt voters that could cause a Democratic legislative candidate to lose.

Rather than continuing the hunts, the group would like to see Gov. Phil Murphy and the legislature prioritize non-lethal methods of controlling bears. A bear management policy would center on educating the public and controlling garbage and bird feeders.

“Why is New Jersey doing so little to educate people about coexistence with bears,” questioned Brian Hackett, the director of governmental and community affairs for the Associated Human Society.

These policies, the group believes, would better protect both the bears and communities. During Murphy’s administration, there have been seven hunts that have killed 1,064 bears – significantly reducing the population.

“Bears have effectively suffered a 60% reduction,” said Doris Lin, the group’s legal director.

The group is willing to flex political muscle to ensure that the state takes their concerns into consideration.  Indeed, 83.7% of the public comments opposed the proposed hunt policy, although that’s not a scientific sample.

Bolstered by this support, the group is vowing to go throughout the state to vocalize their support for the bear population. The group has a rally planned for Saturday, September 23rd in Paramus where they plan to mobilize their supporters.

“We continue to hear constant feedback from our members and supporters throughout New Jersey.  Should the bear hunt start in October, they will not support any Democratic candidates in the upcoming November election,” the group said in a press release.

Tittel said Murphy “has not been better than (former Gov. Chris) Christie” on the environment.

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