Court: Animal Protection League’s bear-hunt protest case moot

TRENTON – An appeals court has dismissed a case involving an animal rights group’s contention that its First Amendment rights were violated in 2011.

The court on Friday dismissed as moot the appeal by the Animal Protection League of New Jersey against the state Department of Environmental Protection in regards to a planned protest at a bear hunt check-in station in Franklin in December 2011.

On Dec. 2, 2011, “ostensibly for safety reasons,” according to the court, DEP denied the request, permitting protesters to congregate at two check stations, the Wittingham Wildlife Management Area in Sussex County and the Pequest Trout Hatchery in Warren County.

Eventually, the courts OK’d 75 protesters limited to one portion of the Franklin site but also later found that protesters had not adhered to the limitations of the permit because they protested outside the limited area.

Although the Animal Protection League pursued the First Amendment issue, the court today dismissed the matter as moot.

Essentially, the court ruled today that in the event of further bear hunts and future requests for protest permits, the court system is equipped to deal rapidly with such matters when they arise.

The bear hunts have been a source of disagreement between animal rights groups and the state as it attempts to deal with New Jersey’s resurgent bear population.

Court: Animal Protection League’s bear-hunt protest case moot