Woman Gets Jail Time for Freeing Bear from Trap

Catherine McCartney sentenced to 15 days in jail for freeing a bear from a trap.

A New Jersey woman was sentenced to 15 days in jail and over $1000 in fines for freeing a bear from a trap last year. She and a friend admitted to hearing a young bear “crying” in a culvert trap set by the New Jersey DEP.

According to New Jersey Advanced Media, Catherine McCartney, 50, of Vernon, fully admits to setting the bear free, but is appealing the sentence imposed Tuesday by Municipal Court Judge James Devine and says she stands by her actions.

McCartney at her sentencing

“These animals are innocent and so I made the moral decision to let the bear go so he could run back to his mother, and it was the right thing to do,” McCartney said in a statement she read in court

The New Jersey DEP set up two culvert traps inside a residential area after two incidents where residents reported being charged by a bear. Neither incident resulted in injuries.

A culvert trap similar to the ones they tampered with

The defendant and her friend Mark Nagelhout helped a young bear escape one of the traps. They were both charged with obstructing the administration of law, and prevention of lawful taking of wildlife.

Nagelhout was fined for his first offense, but McCartney was also given jail time because this is her fourth bear related arrest. She was arrested at bear hunt protests in 2016, 2017 and 2018, the New Jersey Herald reported.

McCartney is appealing the sentence. Which she believes is too harsh.