, Research Paper
Black Bear Population
As the world evolves, the number of problems facing it increases with each passing day. The population numbers of many species are rising extensively. Several environmental factors along with scientific factors combine, resulting in over-population. As more buildings, homes, and businesses materialize, natural habitats where animals live are destroyed, leaving certain species intruding in rural areas where they once roamed freely. One particularly example of this problem is the black bear population in New Jersey. The black bear population is growing too quickly while their natural habitat is rapidly decreasing. The Division of Fish and Wildlife estimates the black bear population in the state of New Jersey to be over 1,000. The same experts also estimate that in five years, the black bear population will double and prove its extremely fast rate of growth. As the black bears’ natural feeding grounds disappear, the reported number of incidents between bears and humans in New Jersey is on the rise. The black bear population is disrupting urban life by causing property damage, breaking into homes and cars, killing livestock and pets, and founding a general feeling of fear in the community. People feel the need to protect themselves, pets, livestock, and property. This issue affects a large percent of New Jersey residents and calls for measures. Three possible solutions to addressing this issue are conducting legalized hunts by hired professional hunters, targeting and euthanizing overly problematic bears, or rejecting the killing concept and dealing with the problem in several different, non-violent ways.
The first possible solution to control the black bear population in New Jersey is to organize a black bear hunt consisting of professional hunters. Hiring trained, professional hunters, also known as sharp shooters, to conduct a two or three day hunt appeals to many New Jersey residents. While many recreational hunters try to shoot any and every bear they see, trained professionals kill the bears that they see as causing problems in a populated area. Black bears, once rarely aggressive, are growing bolder, from simply mauling trashcans to killing pets and livestock. This year, the number of complaints of property damage is 157, the number of home entry complaints is 26, the number of livestock killings is 21, the number of beehives destroyed is 13, the number of domestic pet rabbit killings is 10, and the number of complaints of pet dog attacks is 7. In addition, more than 30 vehicle strikes are occurring between humans and bears. New Jerseyans have the right to want to protect themselves, children, pets, livestock, and property against bears. A proposed bear hunt of sharp shooters would reduce the number of black bears by up to 75% over a three year time period, from more than 1,000 down to 250. The effects of a professional bear hunt would not only resulting dramatic, immediate results, but would prove to be safer, more efficient, and much lower in cost compared with several other options. As opposed to a regular hunt where any licensed hunter of any juvenile accompanied by a licensed adult can participate, the sharp-shooter hunt would only be available to a select group of hired hunters, after passing safety courses. This hunt would not only reduce the risk of incidental injuries obtained by inexperienced hunters, but would also lessen the cruelty towards the bears. Having excellent aim and precise knowledge of bear hunting, the sharp-shooter could kill each bear quickly and painlessly with one bullet rather than injuring the bear first and tracking it down to complete the drawn-out kill. The efficiency with which the professional hunters work, could complete the hunt with several days, therefore causing less of a disruption in the community. Many communities would experience a great abundance of recreational hunters if a legalized hunt becomes available to them, but with the proposed the sharp-shooter hunt, a fewer amount of hunters would arrive in the county. Lastly, experts estimate the cost of the sharp-shooter hunt being less expensive than plans for relocating, sterilizing, and euthanizing bears while educating the community and protection forces. An organized hunt consisting of trained professionals proves to have a lower cost than alternative solutions, to be a more efficient way of utilizing hunting time, and to have a higher degree of safety compared to a random hunt.
Targeting and euthanizing overly problematic bears serves as the second possible solution to dealing with the black bear population in New Jersey. The state, home to over 1,000 bears, up from just 50 bears in the late 1960s, is receiving complaints about “bad-news bears” tipping garbage cans and acting aggressively toward humans. The number of complaints are increasing drastically from 285 in 1995 to 1, 659 last year. Under this second solution, the Division’s Wildlife Control Unit will capture problematic bears, causing property damage and other more serious problems. After being captured, the bears go through the tagging process where experts also remove the bears from the complaint site. Upon release, the bears receive intense aversion therapy to modify their behavior, including pepper spray, rubber bullets, and pyrotechnics designed to frighten animals. “When we capture a nuisance bear, we’ll pull a tooth [to determine age], tattoo it, draw blood, measure it, and make sure the experience is so negative that he won’t want to go near another human,” reports John Cichowski, a ranger at the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The Division of Fish and Wildlife reports that 82% of aversion therapy bears are no longer problematic after their release. According to the Division Black Bear Policy, bears that repeat negative behaviors will be euthanized. Governor Whitman plans to modify the Policy, which authorizes the killing of problematic bears, by broadening the definition of problematic bears. Bears that enter homes, kill livestock, attack pets, or act aggressively will be killed under her modification, as well as bears returning to areas where they once were a nuisance. This policy not only will result in fewer deaths, but also ensures a fall in reported hunting injuries. This solution, not always 100% effective, offers amore humane view in dealing with this problem. Rather than declaring open season on the entire bear population, this option of conditioning and/or euthanizing problematic bears ensures that only the bears posing as threats will suffer the consequences, whereas the peaceful bears not causing any trouble are left to remain a part of the community.
The third solution to the black bear population growth is take non-violent steps to try to allow the bears to live harmoniously with society rather than kill them at all. This controversial issue of killing or not killing some of the bear population is escalating to a peak. This solution option seems less cruel, but also less effective. Many argue that the black bear has the right to be here considering that it is not an imported animal. Environmentalists, animal-rights groups and 26 North Jersey municipalities protest planned bear hunts, such as state Sierra Club President Jeff Tittel who argues “…the bear is one of nature’s last remaining symbols to stand in the way of the suburbanization of the state.” Opponents challenge the bear complaint figures adding that non-lethal means especially educational programs to prevent bear feeding are all that is necessary to prevent most damage caused by bears. Dealing with the safety issues, the threats of injuries from hunting disappear with alternative plans to control the animals, including relocating nuisance bears, providing funds and training for police to deal with the problem, as well as and increasing the Department of Environmental Protection’s bear task force. Another non-violent way to keep the bear population from rising any further sit o sterilize them. When wildlife managers individually drag bears from their winter hibernation dens to weigh and measure them, to take blood samples, and to hang radio-transmitter collars around their necks, female bears could receive a contraceptive injection at this time, and the collars would lead marksman months later to the same animal for a second shot. If even stronger action is deemed necessary, the females could be spayed and the males could be neutered during their winter physicals. Admittedly it would take several years to make a dent in the population, but the plan would not harm a single bear and still prevent too much breeding from occurring. Black bears, genuinely non-aggressive animals, hunters kill more people than do black bears. The human tolerance for the black bear is down. In 1995, 285 complaints were recorded last year, 1,659 complaints were recorded and an additional 600 sittings were reported.
In conclusion, three buyable solutions dealing with the black bear issue would be to hire a small group of sharp-shooters to conduct a black bear hunt in the state of New Jersey, to target problematic bears by putting them through aversion therapy and euthanizing the bears that continue acting aggressively, and to fund programs teaching society ways to coexist with the bears without killing them. The Division’s Wildlife Control Unit is dealing with the complaints on this serious problem associated with an expanding bear population as best it can, but its resources are limited. A long-term solution is in great need, but until an concrete solution surfaces, interactions between bears and humans are inevitable and conflicts will continue to become more frequent as the number of bears grow. The community remains almost equally split over the controversial solutions to the problem. Although this issue is a specific one, it boils down to whether or not it is humane to kill another animal. This age-old question is the core of the matter and society must come to an agreement on the answer to this question before any improvements can occur.