For those of you who don't know, the state of New Jersey had planned on having a bear hunt to control a bear overpopulation problem. Naturally, this became a very controversial issue, with Animal Rights people bound and determined to stop the hunt. First, they unsuccessfully filed a lawsuit to stop it. Then, one group initiated a campaign to recruit volunteers who would train in the fine arts of hunt sabotage and then disrupt the hunt, which is patently illegal.
Predictably, four people were arrested for allegedly interfering with the hunt. One of those was Angela Metler, a long time Animal Rights activist with ALF connections who is the Director of the New Jersey Animal Rights Alliance. (Ms Metler was once, along with Professor Steven Best, Dr. Jerry Vlasak, and Camille Hankins, a Press Officer for the terrorist Animal Liberation Front. Her name no longer appears as one on the ALPO website, so with Professor Best's departure, "now there are two.")
Here's the most complete story — and an altogether fascinating one — that I've found about the events surrounding the arrests. It smacks of truth to me, but you make your own call:
In a report released Thursday, a state park ranger describes in detail a confrontation he and two hunters had with animal rights activists in the woods the day before. The ranger says he and his companions were surrounded by screaming women and genuinely feared for their lives after one of the activists, the only man charged, threatened to "get my Arab friends."
Heh. Yeah . . . you gotta watch out fer them Arabs . . . No negative racial/ethnic stereotyping here, is there?
Another of the activists, Angela Metler, "screamed at the top of her lungs" and told the ranger — who she thought was just another hunter — that "the only thing that should be hunted is hunters," the report says.
Metler, director of the New Jersey Animal Rights Alliance, and three other activists were arrested in Wawayanda State Park in Vernon on Wednesday morning, the third day of this week's black bear hunt.
The four were all charged with hunter harassment, disorderly conduct, obstructing the administration of law and resisting arrest.
Albert Kazemian of Vernon, also faces a terroristic threats charge — punishable by three to five years in state prison — for allegedly threatening the lives of the hunters.
That's some serious hard time . . . I suspect that some sort of deal will be reached, but still . . .
Lynda Smith, director of the anti-hunt Bear Education and Resource Group — of which the arrested activists are all members — called the ranger's narrative outrageous. She said she has seen a videotape of the incident and that no one was yelling in it.
"The way that it's being portrayed by (the state) is not at all in line with the way it happened, and the truth will come out," Smith said.
I'm looking forward to seeing the tape, or a reliable summary of it.
She added that the BEAR Group is a strictly nonviolent organization, and would never advocate violence against hunters or anyone else.
"To make accusations about people who would literally not hurt a fly — that's outrageous," she said.
Perhaps they wouldn't hurt a fly . . . but then, humans aren't flies, and threats made against humans are often taken seriously by humans. (Flies seem to have a much hard time deciding whether or not threats are credible . . ..)
The videotape will likely be used as evidence for the defense, Smith said, adding that the group's lawyers are considering whether to file unspecified counter-charges against the hunters and the state.
The ranger, Officer Walter Sanford of the state park police, went into the woods with the two hunters in response to complaints of activists harassing hunters over the previous two days. He disguised himself in a hunting jacket and ski mask.
They entered the woods around 8 a.m., and before long ran into a group of five people wearing orange "Wounded Bear Rescue" T-shirts, who began following them.
"I asked them what they were doing and the said that they were bird watching," Sanford says in the report. "I replied that was great and continued my walk."
The report says the group soon began surrounding them, at times at a range of 10 feet.
"In an elevated tone, they began calling us killers and telling us we shouldn't be here and that these were their bears," it says. "We replied that we thought they were bird watching."
After the hunters moved farther into the woods and "begged" the activists to leave them alone, the report says the group moved in even closer, within 5 feet. That's when the report says Metler screamed and said she would not leave them alone.
Sanford says he and Metler had a lengthy conversation, although the other three women "continuously screamed and yelled."
At one point, he says, "Hunter A" mentioned a hunter in Pennsylvania who was mauled by a bear he had shot last month, and Metler replied that "it was about time the bears fought back and she wished the guy was killed."
At one point in the argument, Sanford and the hunters said they agreed with the activists' right to voice their opinions and mentioned that American soldiers in Iraq are "fighting for freedoms such as these."
In was at this point, Sanford says, that Kazemian said: "I'll get my Arab friends to hunt you down; see how you like it." He and Metler then asked the hunters where they lived.
"I asked why and asked if they were going to kill us," Sanford says. "I looked at Mr. Kazemian, who tilted his head slightly, raised his eyebrows and shrugged his shoulders at me in the typical way most people would say 'I don't know' or 'Maybe.'
"I turned and looked at the other two hunters and I could see that they were visibly shaken and worried.
Hunter A looked at me with a worried look on his face and it was at this point I knew I had to call for backup for the safety of myself and the hunters."
Sanford's tale has the ring of truth about it, and if the facts are anything approaching what he says they are, he and his hunter colleagues would have reason to fear that they, or their homes, would be attacked by some useful idiots acting on the information provided by some AR/AL website.
Sanford then took off his ski mask and coat, identifying himself as a park policeman and telling them they were all under arrest.
Kazemian then backed away and struggled with the officer while the others walked away into the woods and Metler "hid behind a very large rock," the report says.
Heh. So much for them having the courage of their convictions. The mental image I have of Metler hiding behind a rock is just too delicious for words.
The report says the situation calmed down when other officers arrived; four of the five activists began to cooperate, although the fifth, an unidentified woman, ran away through the wood and was not caught.
Besides Metler and Kazemian, those arrested were Janet Piszar, of Millburn, and Theresa Fritzges, of East Windsor. All four were taken to the Vernon police station, where they were processed and released.
Kazemian is to appear in Vernon Municipal Court on Tuesday.
[ . . . ]
McHugh said Sanford was simply doing his job by going undercover to investigate the hunter harassment complaints. He added that state officials are also investigating two reports of illegal bear-baiting by hunters.
Baiting the animals is legal, but hunters are not allowed to lie in wait within 300 feet of the bait-piles.
If hunters were in violation of the law, they should be nailed. Period.
"I think it's been a successful hunt," McHugh said.
Among the 246 bears killed so far were 15 so-called nuisance bears that had been tagged earlier this year. McHugh said the hunt itself acts as a deterrent to keep bears away from populated areas, and predicted a major decline in nuisance complaints next year.
The hunt will continue through Saturday.
On the hunt's final day, the BEAR group plans an organized protest at the bear check station in Wawayanda state park.
So Metler et al are protesting the killing of . . . what . . . perhaps what will turn out to be 300 bears for the purposes of reducing what is now bear overpopulation.
If she and her gaggle of compatriots are looking for a cause, why not go after PeTA? PeTA kills something like 80% of the dogs and cats they take into their Norfolk facility — just shy of 12,500 from the second half of 1998 through 2004.
Why does Ms Metler turn her critically moral eye on the bear hunters, but not on PeTA?