New Jersey Bear Feeding Laws In News AgainNew Jersey DEP Fish & Wildlife, Bear Hunting Magazine
With New Jersey's 2012 six-day bear hunt beginning on December 3rd, bears in the state are in the news again. With the bear feeding case that derailed against a anti-hunt activist earlier this year, laws in the state are being looked at again.
The charge against the New Jersey anti-hunt activist stemmed from a December 8, 2011 citation issued by state conservation officers who went to her property, after she reported hunters were trespassing, and reportedly found piles of excrement and other signs of bears being fed. The Municipal Judge in acquitting the woman, said that while he believed she was responsible for sunflower seeds, peanut butter and pet food items scattered on her property and consumed by bears, he had no way of knowing her intent.
A bill introduced in May would amend a 2002 state law, which penalizes the intentional feeding of bears, to cover unintentional feeding. The proposal, A.2963, differs from a similar bill in that it would eliminate the exemption for bait placement for deer. It would, however, exempt agricultural operations that result in the feeding of a bear.
The proposal would extend liability to anyone living in bear country for failing to secure their garbage, exactly what lawmakers a decade ago, decided not to include. Neither bill would change the potential penalty, ranging from a fine of $50 to $1,000, and both would eliminate the requirement of a prior written warning.
Efforts to expand the 2002 bear-feeding law would seem like a long shot,; the idea of extending penalties to anything other than intentional feeding drew objections when the law, which passed with only a single dissenting vote, was in the discussion phase. Both bills have been referred to the Assembly Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee, where no action has been taken. A similar proposal in 2010 never made it out of committee.