I am reproducing a bulletin from the New Jersey Animal Rights Alliance concerning a recent decision by the NJ Appellate Division to uphold a lower court's decision against three animal rights activists. This is a disappoinment but the decision does not derogate the dedication, the courage and the heroism of the activists. The world is a better place because of people like Terry Fritges, Ali Kazemian, and Angi Metler. I wish you all the best, and my heart goes out to you. In the end, the NJ Appellate Court decided that the 2005 bear hunt was illegal. Thank you for your service.
As you may know from media sources (see article below), on June 20th, the NJ Appellate Division upheld the municipal convictions against three activists arrested on the third day of New Jersey's black bear hunt in December 2005.
Terry Fritzges, Ali Kazemian, Angi Metler and Janet Piszar were arrested in Wawayanda State Park, Vernon, on December 7, 2005, on various charges. They were found guilty by the municipal court on most counts, including hunter harrassment. Ali, Angi and Janet moved forward with an appeal and were represented by Gina Calogero on the basis that there was no physical interference with the hunters or hunt, that their presence in the woods was legal and all dialogue which took place constituted free speech. Calogero also argued that the undercover ranger, who declared "he was a hunter first" should not have been held credible due to his pro-hunting views, and that additional hard evidence collected in their defense should not have been denied admission into court. The video-footage allowed to be shown in court proved the hunters and the "undercover" ranger lied under oath, yet the judge accepted their testimony as credible.
And, unbelievable, the Appellate Court agreed with the lower court.
After conferring with their attorney, Janet, Ali and Angi have decided not to pursue further legal action --- fines will be paid by the activists and Angi Metler's 2-day jail time in Sussex County jail begins on Tuesday July 1. Additionally, after that, there will be 8 days of supervised community service (Sheriff's Labor Assistant Program) that Angi will be forced to do.We would like to extend a huge thank you to everyone who has been supportive, both financially and otherwise, of the activists. It is VERY much appreciated. Please take a few moments to send a letter to the editor of your local paper. The only way we can get our side out there is to write letters. If you need contact info for your paper, visit: www.nj.com.
Background: The activists were in the woods to gather information about the 2005 bear hunt. Video was taken and recorded over several days. Wounded bears, blood trails and more were documented. It became apparent that the hunters did not want them in the woods to document this slaughter. They complained bitterly to Wawayanda Park Rangers, but were told the activists had every right to be in the woods. That was until Ranger Sanford got involved. With his, "I am a hunter first attitude," he went "undercover" and lied under oath to get the activists convicted.
In September 2007, the 2005 bear hunt was eventually declared illegal when the NJ Appellate Division ruled in favor of New Jersey Animal Rights Alliance and the BEAR Group in our lawsuit against the state. The court decided that the NJ Fish and Game Council violated rules and regulations in formulating their hunt plan, meaning that there was in fact, no bear hunt plan at all.
So, the state held an illegal hunt, killing over 300 bears yet no one is held accountable.
Activists who were in the woods to document the killing, were set up and arrested, fined and given jail time.-------------
New Jersey Animal Rights Alliance (NJARA)PO Box 174Englishtown, NJ 07726732-446-6808 New Jersey Animal Rights Alliance is NJ's only statewide animal rights organization. NJARA has been advancing the rights of animals for 25 years through advocacy, public education and legislation. Visit us at www.NJ-ARA.org.