Bear activist protesting again at this year’s hunt

Photo by Tracy Klimek/New Jersey Herald  - Bill Crain, left, listens as his attorney, Dan Perez, pleads his case in Green Township Municipal Court last year. Crain, who has protested the last five New Jersey bear hunts, plans to join protesters again.

Bill Crain showed up to protest the last five New Jersey bear hunts, and every time was arrested while engaging in civil disobedience.

The City College of New York psychology professor, a longtime advocate for animals, said he will join protestors on Dec. 8, the first day of the six-day hunt.

However, Crain said that this time, he expects not to get arrested — though he is not entirely slamming the door on the possibility.

“It’s unlikely I will engage in civil disobedience. Five years in a row is a lot of civil disobedience. It’s stressful for my family,” Crain, who turns 71 on Dec. 23, said in an interview Tuesday.

Crain said he will be preparing another version of his signature sign, “Mother Nature is crying.”

“I’ll make up another one. They keep confiscating it,” he said.

The mild-mannered Harvard University graduate, who lives on a 40-acre farm in Dutchess County, N.Y., improbably has become the public face of the resistance to bear hunting in New Jersey. The hunts resumed in 2003 after a three-decade moratorium.

Crain was arrested protesting the second hunt, in 2005; again when hunting resumed in 2010; and in 2011, 2012 and 2013. His typical disobedience involved crossing into an area where protesters were prohibited by police.

In recent years, while other protesters were more vocal, only Crain took the step of provoking an arrest. In 2011, Crain was interviewed by reporters while in handcuffs, just off Route 23 in Franklin, as he was being patted down by officers.

While Crain’s first three arrests resulted in fines, a municipal prosecutor sought a 10-day jail sentence after his fourth conviction.

That case, though, ultimately was resolved with a fine, as was his fifth conviction in April — a guilty plea to a civil violation of engaging in acts forbidden on property under state control.

For stepping past a rope authorities used to cordon off protesters in Fredon outside the Whittingham Wildlife Management Area, Crain had faced up to six months in jail on one count of obstructing the administration of law and one count of recklessly creating a hazardous or physically dangerous condition.

Instead, Crain paid a $1,000 fine, plus $33 in court costs.

This year’s hunt is likely to draw additional notice due to the fatal mauling, on Sept. 21, of a 22-year-old hiker in West Milford. It is the first known killing of a human by a bear n New Jersey.

Crain, though, said the tragedy is not likely to reshape the debate.

“I don’t think it will have an impact, one way or the other,” Cran said.

Crain’s animal advocacy is not limited to bears. He is currently organizing objections to additional deer hunting on Long Island, N.Y.

He also recently published a book, “The Emotional Lives of Animals and Children, Insights from a Farm Sanctuary.”

The New York Times published a letter from Crain on Nov. 6 under the heading, “Animals Have Rights, Too.”

He criticized the outcomes of referendums, two days earlier, in Alabama and Mississippi, in which both states amended their constitutions to allow additional hunting.

In his letter, Crain addressed “stunning commonalities” between humans and other animals on the genetic level,” adding, “It appears arbitrary and self-serving to promote the rights and preferences of members of our own species without considering those of other species as well.”

Crain was mentioned a year ago in a Time Magazine cover story titled “America’s Pest Problem.” The Time story was from the viewpoint that more hunting of wildlife, rather than less, is justified.

Crain does not see it that way.

“It’s becoming more and more impossible for me to understand why we don’t have


Bear activist protesting again at this year’s hunt – New Jersey Herald.

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