Vernon - The trial of four animal-rights activists arrested last Dec. 7 in Wawayanda State Park opened last Thursday in Vernon.
Vernon police arrested the four, who were protesting the week-long bear hunt during which hunters shot 297 bears, including 89 in Wawayanda.
During the five-hour court session, four witnesses for the prosecution testified and were cross-examined about the events that led to the arrests of Angi Metler, 49, of Vernon, director of the New Jersey Animal Rights Alliance; Terry Fritzges, 57, of East Windsor; Albert Kazemian, 49, of Vernon; and Janet Piszar, 52, of Millburn. The four face a total of 17 charges. A fifth activist escaped arrest by running deep into the woods, according to the police report.
After the prosecution rested its case, the trial was adjourned to an unspecified future date.
Testifying for the prosecution about the events of the day were N.J. State Park Police Officers Walter Sanford and Kelly Gottheiner and hunters William Devine and his son-in-law, Jon White. Devine said that having killed his quota of one bear on Dec. 6, he had come to hunt deer. White was still hoping to bag a bear.
Sanford testified that he was under orders from his superiors to work undercover, pulling hunter’s clothing over his uniform and accompanying Devine and White, who had complained to police about being berated on Dec. 5 and Dec. 6 by activists wearing orange T-shirts adorned with “wounded bear rescue.”
Sanford testified that on Dec. 7, he and the hunters encountered five or six protestors on Pump House Trail.
Sanford said that although the activists were singing and shouting, they claimed to be on a bird-watching expedition. When the hunters approached the activists, they began to utter accusations and threats.
Sanford said that he tried to make peace and suggested that the hunters move in another direction, while the hunters had entreated the activists to leave them alone.
Source: Straus News