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December 22, 2003

Contact: Amy Cradic
(609) 984-1795

DEP Issues Summons to Hunter for Illegally Claiming Bear Killed on Side of Road

(03/185) TRENTON -- Concluding an investigation, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) today announced that Steven Meyer of Highland Lakes was issued a summons by the Division of Fish and Wildlife for illegally claiming a bear that was killed by a motor vehicle Tuesday, December 9, 2003 on Route 23, West Milford Township.

As Mr. Meyer admitted to DEP conservation officers, at approximately 5:45 a.m. on the morning of December 9, he saw a bear on Rt. 23 and then proceeded to drag the dead bear off the road and onto a snow bank. Mr. Meyer then said that he contacted his wife and asked her to drive to the location and wait by the bear so that he could return home and retrieve his hunting permit. When asked what happened to the bear, Mr. Meyer's wife told pedestrians and the West Milford Police that the bear had been killed by her husband and she was waiting for his return to retrieve it.

At approximately 7:25 a.m., Mr. Meyer returned with his bear permit and illegally took possession of the road-killed bear. Mr. Meyer later contacted the Division of Fish and Wildlife's Northern Region Law Enforcement Office, indicating that he had hunted and recovered a bear late in the day and would not be able to check it in until Wednesday.

On Wednesday, December 10, Mr. Meyer took the road-killed bear to the check station at Wawayanda State Park, and checked the bear using his permit.

As a result of conflicting stories regarding the bear killed on Route 23, DEP conservation officers initiated an investigation with the assistance of West Milford Police. The bear was recovered by the DEP from Mr. Meyer and was examined by a state pathologist on December 19 and 22. Tests and physical observations of the head and skin indicated damage and injuries consistent with an animal that had been struck by a motor vehicle.

During the bear hunt, when a bear was brought to a mandatory check station, DEP biologists examined the animal to ensure that it was killed with a legal weapon, which included the use of a muzzle loader or a shotgun firing a rifled slug but not buck shot. The bear checked by Mr. Meyer had a chest wound that appeared to have been made by a muzzle loader.

When Mr. Meyer was re-interviewed by conservation officers as part of the investigation, he admitted that before he brought the bear to the check station, he shot it with a muzzle loader. Mr. Meyers was issued a summons for taking a bear by other than a legal means, which is only allowed in a hunt established under the New Jersey game code. If he pleads guilty, he is subject to a $100 penalty under the law.

The West Milford Police received the first report of a dead bear on Route 23 at approximately 5:00 a.m. in the morning of December 9. The bear weighed approximately 55-to-65 pounds.



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