Have you ever stepped on a bear?

I'VE NEVER STEPPED ON A BEAR. HAVE YOU? I just had to ask, considering the two separate and bizarre incidents involving two New Jersey hunters this month.

The first is from Hunterdon County. A deer hunter in his tree stand killed a cub – allegedly for trying to climb the tree. Too bad the hunter didn't learn about bears in Louisiana, where the Louisiana Black Bear is listed as "threatened." Thanks to the Endangered Species Act, to kill a bear there could mean a $50,000 fine and 6 months in jail. The photo below is from the Louisiana Department of Wildlife & Fisheries website, with THIS warning to HUNTERS:

"Don't confuse curiosity with aggression. Bears are extremely curious. Hunters need to remember that they are often concealed and bears don't see very well. In situations like this, it is likely that the bear doesn't know it is a human up in the tree. Use pepper spray to deter curious bears."

That's right - PEPPER SPRAY! But here in New Jersey, the authorities issued NO SUMMONS for shooting this bear out-of-season. It's no secret that the Division of Fish & Kill Wildlife (DFW) is using the Darsh Patel tragedy as a springboard to expand hunting. But now it seems they're also giving hunters the green light to kill bears – so long as the hunter "feels threatened." 

According to the minutes of the October Fish & Shame Council, "more incidents with bears will occur because people (hunters!) are on edge."

The minutes go on to repeat that "more incidents are expected" and that they will be "as reasonable as possible" in dealing them, because "not everyone possesses information on bear behavior." I thought ignorance of the law was no excuse! Are hunter-on-bear incidents are being encouraged  as a new way for DFW to feign the need for more hunting?

The 2nd incident occurred – as promised – soon after the Hunterdon incident. A hunter-cop killed a mother bear in Allamuchy State Park. He claims she bit him after he "accidentally STEPPED ON HER." In the melee, 2 one-week-old cubs were crushed to death.

I'M NOT BUYING IT. Not because he's a hunter – or a cop – because it's ridiculous. 

Again, no summons was issued. In the past, the unspoken rule for illegally killing a bear was "Shoot and shut-up." But now it's, "Shoot If You're Scared." By saying that more incidents are expected – and not enforcing penalties – the state is encouraging a free-for-all...and all the hunter has to do is claim that he felt threatened by a bear.

Well, we already knew they're cowards. At least they're admitting it, right?