One of the most important aspects of the proposed black bear hunt is the objectivity, or lack thereof, from the 'biologists' claiming it is necessary. Employees of the New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife, including biologists, profit from the sales of hunting licenses. This alone creates a serious conflict of interest, but it goes much deeper than this.
Project leader for the Division's bear program, Patrick Carr, was interviewed in the February 2001 issue of "Field and Stream" magazine. The interview took place shortly after the bear hunt in 2000 was canceled.
"Part of $2 million appropriation from the state's legislature is earmarked for bear research, and Carr believes that it will allow him and his colleagues to make an even better case for bear hunting."
This is an astounding admission that the Division's bear research, which should have had open and objective goals, was in fact being manipulated and predestined for one desired outcome - to produce a bear hunt.
While their motives and methods for pushing for a bear hunt are clear, the evidence for the actual execution of this scientific crime comes from Bradley Campbell, Commissioner of the NJ Department of Environmental Protection. On March 6, 2003, he wrote the following in a letter to the NJ Fish and Game Council:
"One consistent and striking public concern voiced at our public meetings was a high level of skepticism and distrust of the population data our Fish and Wildlife Division has used to make bear management decisions in the past. Responding to this concern, I convened an independent review panel of outside experts - including sportsmen, animal protection advocates, and scientists and statisticians from across the region - to consider the data and methodology currently used by the Division to project black bear populations. I was especially concerned about this because the Division's internal projection of the current population has increased by more than 70 percent over the past several months.
The independent panel identified several weaknesses in the Division's past analytical approach, as well as a number of areas where further work is needed. For purposes of the Council's meeting this week, the important point is that the population numbers are clearly uncertain. While the Division has most recently projected a population of 3278, the panel concluded that the population may be as low as 1350."
In the year 2001, the Division's lead bear researcher promised hunters that he would use his authority to make the case for a bear hunt. In 2003, as a decision was being made to have a hunt, the Division's bear population numbers suddenly increased by 70 percent.
The only thing that we can be absolutely assured of with the science the Division uses is this: It is designed to promote hunting only.