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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
2/27/03

Contact: Amy Cradic,
609-984-1795

DEP and U.S. Humane Society Sign Agreement to Research Use of Immunocontraceptives on Black Bears

New Panel Examines State's Bear Population Estimates

(03/22) TRENTON - Today, Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Commissioner Bradley M. Campbell announced that New Jersey will work in partnership with the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) to study the use of PZP, an immunocontraceptive, as a non-lethal approach to manage the state's black bear population.

"In addition to traditional wildlife management measures, non-lethal methods need to be developed and considered as potential tools to manage New Jersey's wildlife populations," said DEP Commissioner Bradley M. Campbell. "The rebounded black bear population in New Jersey remains a true success story. Our responsibility now is to ensure adequate habitat for black bears and safe, livable communities in and around that shared domain."

The pilot project will start with a study on black bears in captivity prior to treating animals in the wild. As part of its Memorandum of Agreement with the DEP, the HSUS will provide and administer the PZP and state wildlife biologists will participate in the examination and monitoring of the bears. If the PZP shows significant evidence that it is safe and effective in captive bears, the HSUS will acquire necessary FDA approval before proceeding, in partnership with the DEP, with tests on the state's wild black bear population.

In addition to the immunocontraceptive study, a new independent black bear panel is conducting a month-long review of New Jersey's bear population estimates. The panel may also examine management tools and potential population control measures to recommend to the state based upon their population review.

"In our series of public meetings on the bear population, numerous citizens raised concern about the adequacy and soundness of our population estimates," Commissioner Campbell added. "This independent review panel will ensure that we have thoughtful deliberation of both the data and any management options that are considered."

Members of the independent bear panel include: Louis Berchielli, biologist, New York Department of Environmental Conservation; Dante DiPirro, Counselor and Legal Policy Advisor to the Commissioner, New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection; George Howard, New Jersey Fish and Game Council; Dr. Lynn Rogers, Biologist, Wildlife Research Institute - Minnesota; Dr. Allen Rutberg, biologist, Tufts University; Harry Spiker, Biologist, Maryland Department of Natural Resources; Lynda Smith, Bear Citizen Group.

Three, independent statistical experts, Dr. Michael Conroy of the University of Georgia, Dr. Gary White of Colorado State University and Dr. Edwin Green of Rutgers University, are also assisting the black bear panel in their review of DEP research and population data.

In addition, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection's Division of Fish and Wildlife and the New York Department of Environmental Conservation will host the 17th Eastern Black Bear Workshop from March 2-5 at the Wyndham Gardens Hotel and Conference Center in Mount Olive, Morris County. The semi-annual workshop brings together scientific researchers and managers from the state, federal, provincial and university communities who are responsible for black bear management. This year's workshop is entitled "Black Bears in the Backyard." Information about the workshop can be found at www.njfishandwildlife.com.

Daytime events are not open to the general public. However, the public is encouraged to attend and participate in evening educational programs.

 

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