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22
Hunting groups sue to force NJ bear hunt

By Jeff Linkous
Associated Press — Oct. 19, 2004

TRENTON, N.J. — Hunting organizations sued the state recently, seeking to force a December bear hunt that's being blocked by New Jersey's environmental commissioner.

A spokesman for the U.S. Sportsmen's Alliance Foundation, one of the plaintiffs, said Commissioner Bradley M. Campbell has illegally denied bear permits to nearly 3,000 hunters even though the state Fish and Game Council approved a six-day hunt.

Spokesman Rob Sexton said Campbell's action is "not based on wildlife science, facts or agency expertise, but on his own personal and political bias against bear hunting."

A spokeswoman for Campbell said the commissioner would not comment on the lawsuit.

Last year, hunters bagged 328 bears during the first black bear hunt in New Jersey in 33 years. Campbell supported that hunt, which drew protests from animal rights groups, as a way to thin the growing numbers of bears across the state's northwest corner and reduce nuisance bear complaints.

Campbell steadfastly opposes a second hunt, saying that although the bear population could support it, he does not want to rely on hunting as the sole approach to managing bears. Campbell favors greater use of awareness programs for residents living near bears, and a contraception program that is still under development.

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