Cara is Dead But It’s Too Early To Celebrate

My name is Linda Ditmars. I am a former wildlife rehabilitator, a certified animal control officer, a co-founder of Animal Allies, and a member of the Committee to Abolish Sport Hunting. I have been asked by the Committee to read the following statement.

The Committee wholly supports the groups and individuals who have come here this evening to speak out in opposition to the proposed New Jersey Game Code and in particular the proposal to allow the killing of black bears.

The entire concept of a “Game Code” is an abomination; legalized animal abuse under the guise of “wildlife management” is increasingly being recognized as unacceptable by the people of New Jersey. Rather than trying to increase the number of hunters by encouraging women and children to join the ranks of those who kill for fun, perhaps the Council should look more deeply at the reasons for the steep decline in the numbers of hunters in this State. Don’t simply write off those of use who oppose hunting as “animal rights nuts;” we “nuts” embody the thinking of the 98% of the population who opposes the killing of animals for recreation. WE do not represent the minority view; you do.

Spend any time at all observing the Division of Fish and Game and their methods become totally predictable. FIRST, define a “problem” by documenting an increasing number of “complaints” from the public. The “problem,” of course, is always too many of the “wildlife species du jour;” (whether deer, coyotes, bears) the “complaints” are usually from unnamed persons, and involve minor situations of overturned garbage cans, sightings of wildlife, ornamental shrubbery being chewed, etc. SECOND, in order to deflect public opposition, initially suggest “non-lethal” strategies –but don’t spend too much time or effort on this approach or on educating people to live in harmony with their environment because, of course, we really don’t want the non-lethal techniques to work. FINALLY, announce that the non-lethal methods have been an abysmal failure as evidenced by the ever-increasing number of “complaints.” If the Division is really lucky, it will be able to point to a highly publicized incident of a bear being captured in the City of Trenton, or a cub scout sleeping in the woods who has narrowly escaped being mauled to justify its ultimate solution: a hunt. (We won’t mention the number of hunter generated “incident” that occur and the animals who aren’t quite finished off and are left to suffer. When the Division of Fish and Game is the problem solver, the solution is always the same—it’s a “one size fits all” answer to all wildlife issues: killing.

We ask the Council to reject the proposal for a bear hunt, and to begin the process of rethinking its focus from that of killing our wildlife, to protecting it.

Excerpts from Linda’s accompanying letter:

Enclosed is a copy of the statement that I read at the public meeting last night. There was an unbelievable turnout; I was speaker #107, with over 200 speakers in total! The number of speakers opposed to the bear hunt outnumbered the hunting proponents by over 2:1, and, of course, our side was much better prepared and presented the superior arguments. Our side had wildlife biologists, a veterinarian, science teachers, statistician, etc. There was a large contingent of people from West Milford, NJ and other “bear country” communities; they, almost without exception, oppose a bear hunt, and were extremely persuasive in their presentation. The veterinarian who spoke came from bear country and testified that in her practice she has never seen a domestic or wild animal that has been injured by a bear. She has, however, seen a large number of dogs/cats and other animals who have been injured or killed by stray shots from hunters. By the way, the town of W. Milford recently passed an ordinance that prohibits bear hunting. I don’t know if they have the jurisdiction to do this, but it sure is a great message to send to the council and our legislators that those who live most closely with the bears, don’t want them to be harmed. There were even a fair number of long-time hunters who nevertheless feel that the Dept. of Fish and Wildlife (they took the “game” our of their name) has not presented the proper data to justify a bear hunt.

The council itself is quite unimpressive…there was a palpable feeling in the room last night that the tide had turned, and that the days of a council made up of hunters is over. It was clear that a number of people had had their eyes opened to the true agenda of thee Div. Of Fish and Wildlife.

One guy got up and said, “you want to know my opinion about the game code?” while ripping up the document and tossing toward the council. The crowd was very vocal despite the moderator’s requests for quiet. He finally gave up! There were quite a few police officers and “conservation” officers present to keep order. All in all, it was quite an inspiring evening. Linda Ditmars is an attorney and former wildlife rehabilitator in Trenton, NJ.


Contact Us

Committee to Abolish Sport Hunting / C.A.S.H.
P.O. Box 562
New Paltz, NY 12561