Did the state of New Jersey cook the books in order to win approval for a bear hunt? That’s the claim being made by a…wait for it…chemistry professor?

From this story on
New Jersey is planning its first bear hunt in five years due to fears that a rising bear population has caused a spike in bear complaints in the Garden State. But one local professor has examined the numbers, and thinks that the spike is a mirage. Rutgers chemistry professor Ed Tavss looked at every bear complaint in New Jersey in 2009 and found that there were hundreds of duplicated entries.


_”They would be the same complainant, It would be the same date, it would be the same reference number, everything would be the same,” Tavss told NBC New York. “When you remove these errors, instead of spiking, the complaints continued to go down significantly, scientifically significantly.”

Tavvs says that the decline in bear complaints can be attributed to state garbage control efforts, such as bear-proof trash containers. The proposed hunt has re-ignited what the Star-Ledger calls “the bear wars.” Local environmentalists say that non-violent methods to reduce human-bear contact will achieve the same purposes as the hunt, while pro-hunting groups maintain that reducing the bear population is the only way to keep New Jersey’s humans safe. The anti-hunting side fights back by pointing to the hunt’s estimated cost to taxpayers: $600,000, which they say the cash-strapped state can ill-afford. While NewsFeed thinks bear hunts are totally rad, we are also sticklers for statistical rigor: fudging official numbers is totally not awesome. (from NBC New York via The Awl)_

First off, I’m shocked, shocked! that anyone would accuse the state of New Jersey of any sort of official malfeasance or corruption. Seriously, isn’t that why they call ’em Goodfellas and Wiseguys? Because they’re smart and honest, right?

Secondly, why would a Rutgers chemistry professor take the time to sift through all that data unless he had some sort of non-chemistry-related agenda? Thirdly, if the population of Jersey black bears is increasing, then a hunt is going to be necessary sooner or later, regardless of the number of complaints. Your thoughts?