Woman sentenced to jail for freeing crying bear cub from trap in New Jersey

A judge sentenced a woman to 15 days in jail for freeing a crying cub from a bear trap.


Municipal Court Judge James Devine sentenced Catherine McCartney, 50, on Thursday, NJ.com reported. McCartney, who has a record of arrests related to bear hunt protests, pleaded guilty to obstructing “the administration of law and the prevention of the lawful taking of wildlife”.

McCartney, a dedicated animal rights activist, plans to appeal the sentence, relating to the incident in in Vernon, New Jersey.

In a statement she read in court, McCartney said she did not regret her decision in rescuing the bear cub from the painful trap.

“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,” she said.

The incident in question took place in October in a condominium complex. The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection said it installed two culvert traps inside the complex campus to capture a bear—known as “Momma Bear” by activists—following two incidents with residents. None of these incidents resulted in injury.

Mark Nagelhout, who helped McCartney free the cub, also plead guilty to the same charges. However, he did not receive a jail sentence since this was his first offence.

Both defendants were also fined $1,316.

155 thoughts on “Woman sentenced to jail for freeing crying bear cub from trap in New Jersey

  1. …bear CUB???
    …in a TRAP???
    …”..LAWFUL taking of wildlife”???..

    and she gets JAILED and FINED for SAVING A BABY BEAR’S LIFE?????


    Yes I am YELLING!
    I HATE people!!

      • Any sane person would do the same. It’s sickos of this world who think this is ok – stick them in a trap and leave them to rot. Vile people.

    • I’m totally with you on this. ..This is outrageous! !! She was in court for freeing a bear cub? ! She should be receiving an award! This world, (especially the western fuc***up world )is an absolute condescending joke! People like Catherine McCartney should be celebrated and honoured, not fined and dragged through the courts and jail !!!This is absurd

    • They weren’t going to kill it. Traps these days do not harm the animal. And you can’t have bear cubs roaming around. If you want to do something good for animals, then go stop immigration. Wilderness is being turned into housing everywhere, and as our fertility rate is less then 2, it is 100% immigration that destroys animal habitat.

      • I have never heard of a trap such as what are mostly used by F&WILDLIFE that doesn’t cause animals to suffer . Why are you talking about Immigrants…what the hell do they have to do with you trapping an innocent bear cub? Do you get turned on by this mentally ill behavior?

    • I agree and people should be protesting this sickening, frigging law. Who would stand by and let this baby cub scream in pain. A heartless pos that’s who. What a warped, sad case. Leave her alone she did what most people with compassion what do.

  2. I’m comparing it in my mind to the sentences for illegal poaching and illegal killings of wildlife. But it is still worth saving a life, IMO.

  3. guilty to obstructing “the administration of law and the prevention of the lawful taking of wildlife”.?????
    What about the asshole that set the trap
    That ok
    It was a baby shame on you people that set this law

  4. “In a statement she read in court, McCartney said she did not regret her decision in rescuing the bear cub from the painful trap.”

    Good for her! She is my hero too.

  5. Protect the sociopaths, the merciless and immoral, punish those with compassion and empathy. People question what’s wrong with society, lack of common sense to start with. People question why many don’t trust or respect authority, maybe the law and authority should try and be worthy of respect. Examples like this show the reason people don’t.

    • I agree, we let the sick demented child abusers go and the murders. But lock up someone fir let a wild animal go…. these animals are coming in the city because you have destroyed their homes to build more expensive 🏡 . And then you take away everything from them, I despise this world that we live in now. It seems it’s against the law just to breath.. is the almighty $$$$$ that important to you people in charge????? Why do you feel you are inferior to anything or anyone in the world. I’m Sad that these people think because they didn’t have the perfect like growing up, they now have the power to hurt everyone, because they were most likely bullied as kids or their homes were horrible….

    • I’ve said the same thing over and over, every chance I get! TAX SUPPORTED (!) Governments are evil complicitors in so much animal cruelty. When it comes to animals, so many times compassion gets penalized while animal-killing psychopaths get rewarded for taking a life for the sheer joy of killing. What’s wrong with this picture?

  6. Is this cities judges crazy, they don’t give murderers life in prison when they take human lives, which is totally assnine. So when someone tries to help an innocent baby goes to jail for 15 days. Save a life go to jail, take a life get a slap on the wrist. Is this society backwards or what. Being a licensed rehabber, just so every one knows I would have freed the baby bear also. If a judge could feel the pain from those traps, maybe they would realize there are better ways to trap and then relocate.

  7. Yeah let’s throw that dangerous baby bear saver behind bars with hardened criminals!!
    Oh em GEE are these guys for real?! What a disgrace shame on them. Idiots!

  8. When laws are unjust, they must be broken! Thank you for having the courage and strength to stand up and save that innocent cub, Catherine McCarthy! I hope you wear your jail sentence like a badge of honor! If I could, I would pay your fines. You are a blessing to the animals you protect!

  9. Seriously… what reasonable human being could just walk away from another living entity in pain and scared. Huge kudos to her for acting unselfishly, knowing that she would face charges… just makes her an extraordinary person.

    • The human race will be judged by the way it treats the animals. We are FAILING, to protect Creators, sentient beings.


  10. She didnt have representation..
    Hunting bears is obviously legal..
    Making an animal suffer in a trap can’t be legal..
    That’s clearly cruelty to animals..
    Which only leads to cruelty to people.
    Which some people learn to love..
    And it makes them sociopath’s.
    Furthermore..traps really need to be banned..ther are indiscriminate..therefoe untennable for the purpose designed..therefore there are liability issues..
    What happens if that trap hurts a person..or a child..or a pet..or livestock?..
    It’s basically a landmine..and really needs to be banned.
    Im not a vegan..or a hunter..live and let live..but cruelty is incredibally unsportsmanlike..
    I have seen utterly vicious footage..of a huge grizzly bear that was shot with a broad hed arrow..
    And..it was utterly pitiful..
    If youre going to hunt someyhing..then kill it..and eat it..that’s the sport..
    But watching a 12 hundred pound bear..run in a circle..because he is in shock..is well beyond reprehensible..as is trapping..
    She freed a baby bear from a cruel fate..
    Thats responsible..
    Anybody would have done the same thing..
    Would she go to prison if she freed someone’s child from that trap?.. or someone’s steer..sheep..dog..cat..?…
    Obviously not..
    Was there a sign on the trap?..
    Claiming ownership?..
    And displaying a license number for trapping?..
    Factually it was a public nuisance and she dealt with it as a first responder..

  11. Saving an innocent animal’s life is a crime. In my opinion it’s No wonder people commit crimes against humanity. Justice???

  12. It’s time we put an end to this once and for all. People cannot continue getting away with this.

    This woman has multiple arrests for breaking laws, citing her own made up moral code as an excused The punishments she has received have done nothing to curb her behavior. She refuses to listen to basic science. 15 days is too short. Put her in jail for 6 months, and then triple it for each infraction after that. Enough is enough already. She’s wasting tax payer money.

    • Beth
      You think this is ok to set traps and put animals through this kind of pain??There something wrong with your head.Read all the comments in here on her.WE stand by her any day

      • WE don’t all stand by her. Sadly, we have put houses in THEIR habitat, and are too stupid to keep trash in locked containers, etc. I regret fully that these animals have to be moved, and sometimes euthanized. This was NOT an inhumane trap. My older llama was killed by a bear, who was trapped and had 2 previous tags. I still miss her, and prayed for the bear, crying next to the barrel trap. It was relocated and I hope stayed further in the mtns. We have no problem with horse racing for $ (37 horses killed at Santa Anita this year for “sport”) but will not stop driving the money train of betting who is the fastest before they break down. I am an animal lover AND activist, but fight something that makes sense. Bet she drives a big sport ute and has a huge house.

  13. insanity, time to disrupt the system…civil disobedience on a mass scale is what we need. Get involved, get the right people elected and start demanding change – this system is broken

  14. And what if a human, or a child were hurt with that trap? Who set the trap at all and is that/why is that legal, untill when is it going to be legal? Barbaric in any case….

  15. There should be no trapping of wild life it’s bad enough with Huntington season and being allowed to hunt Cubs and kill the creatures while their in hibernation let alone sentencing someone for helping a baby…a innocent cub…we should be ashamed for our behavior towards animal life and our lack of respect for it…

  16. What the hell is going on. You can’t free a bear cub from a crippling device. Please. They are in their home. We are invading them. What would you do if someone came into your house. You would defend yourself. Right????? Stay out of their garden of eden and you won’t get hurt.

  17. I don’t understand. If there was a situation with the bears why didn’t they capture them in “live” traps? That’s what they do further up north from Jersey…..and then relocate…shameful 😪

  18. I think she did the right thing, no animal should go the agony of being in a trap. I praise her for helping this innocent animal.

  19. Punishing rescuers is currently the norm in cases of oppressed species. We must change that, & there are activists now in court trying to do that. One of ma y ways you can help is to join DirectActionEverywhere, by going to dxe.io/member, from your browser, & signing up. There are many other orgs & individuals working for justice for nonhumans & thier rescuers also, & many ways to take nonviolent direct action to end cruelty to animals. Please join the movement for animal liberation.

  20. prevention of the lawful taking of wildlife”. ?????????????
    Will what the hell
    Leave it for the hunters ????The bastards.
    It a baby.You people have hearts of stone to let that happen
    This baby was in pain and if you think it ok something so wrong with you
    I would stand by her 100%

  21. That Lady should not be sent
    to prison for freeing a baby
    Bear it was crying for its
    Mum. That is cruel to trap
    it. To keep Bears out you
    Should have some sort of
    gates with maybe an electric
    current running through to
    stop them, like they do in
    Africa with the elephants.

  22. The judge should be sent to jail for allowing the traps and cruelty to the wildlife. I would also free the baby cub and gladly do my time. Wildlife is essential to our world and if we would not take their space and build homes they wouldn’t be a problem. Keep saving the wildlife.

  23. Thank God for people like her. There are catch cages that Don’t hurt animals. There is no need to cause pain. Too much cruelty in this world!

  24. So disgusting! I would do the same in a heartbeat
    and there would be NO REGRETS!
    Why do so many lack compassion for all living creatures?

  25. She is a hero and laws are corrupt and there only to support murder to innocent beings. Third disgusting and pathetic that a fucked law exist and animals are suffering at the hands of corrupt law makers.. SHE IS A HERO!!

  26. This lady should be released, how mucked up is the law. She saved a bear that was trapped and in pain. When is the law going to realise that animals are no different to us. Those that jailed this lady should hang your heads in shame.

  27. Good for her! I would have done the exact same thing and gladly taken the consequences. Much better than dying or being killed in a trap. Poor bear!

  28. Surely they could have humanly trapped the bears to move them to somewhere else. She certainly doesn’t deserve jail. I hope the have help paying their fines. I think she did the right

  29. You ho girl!. I would proudly go to jail for helping save an animal from suffering and pain. This case should in the favor of yhis kind woman.

  30. Psychopaths enjoy inflicting pain and suffering on the innocent and the defenceless without feeling or remorse…
    Lock the dangerous psychopaths up not the good souls.

  31. To you lame idiots who call yourself law enforcement. You should all be ashamed of yourselves. Go get a meaningful job if you can’t do the right thing. The bearcub wasn’t harming anyone. You bullies

  32. So being a kind human being and rescuing an animal is wrong and you go to jail? Wow….something wrong with our judicial system. This is.messed up! She did the right thing. I would have done the same thing and set the baby free💝

  33. What a waste of tax payer dollars and embarrassment of a failed system. A bear cub belongs with its mother . Why does common sense not prevail? Thank you for helping the cub.

  34. I would do the same thing as a matter of conscience and do the time and fine, money if you ask me well spent. The SOBs that set the traps have no value of life or conscience and could kiss my $&# and go straight to hell!

  35. Good for her! She did the right and just thing- freeing a baby cub; so that he could reunite with his mama bear!! What is wrong with these people?? Our prime purpose in life is to help others- animals included; and if we can’t help them; at least do not hurt them!!

  36. The department of Environmental protection should be held accountable. Traps are hazardous to the bears and what about children. The bears need lured away or people need to learn to coexist with wildlife. Remember we are taking their territory not them taking our. I live in Florida. Snakes, bears, gators, coyotes etc. I have to be alert for them. Not whine and have them removed

  37. Good on this brave & compassionate woman. It is a crime that humans make animals suffer in “a civilised ,evolved” world. Shame on mankind the monster of all animals.

  38. Whoever set up the traps should be the one in jail. It’s Barbaric and cruel . This is torture a slow one, traps like that are obsolete . There’s better ways to capture and release the bears far out. People that live in Bear areas should know how to keep their homes safe from attracting them. What are the GOV going to use all of that fine for? More Barbaric traps?

  39. WHATS WRONG WITH THIS PICTURE ? Are you Serious ? WTF???
    So trophy hunters can use every excuse known to not go to jail, for maliciously killing maiming poaching and torturing wild animals.
    And this lady RELEASES & saves a trapped crying bear and she gets jailed?????? SO NOT EVEN THE SOLICITORS & JUDGES CAN DECIFER RIGHT FROM WRONG

  40. WHATS WRONG WITH THIS PICTURE ? Are you Serious ? WTF???
    So trophy hunters can use every excuse known to not go to jail, for maliciously killing maiming poaching and torturing wild animals.
    And this lady RELEASES & saves a trapped crying bear and she gets jailed?????? SO NOT EVEN THE SOLICITORS & JUDGES CAN DECIFER RIGHT FROM WRONG anymore ?

  41. Where is it okay to allow cruelty to animals that are wild, and not to our domestics? The state needs to be held accountable for allowing in humane trapping . Wake up people abuse is abuse, period !!! There are humane traps you can use and monitor to catch and relocate. Trapping is legal abuse and allows suffering.

  42. Well unborn babies are innocent too…. but I don’t see you standing up for them…..you said in another interview how you believe in a woman’s right to choose!
    Shame on you, you are a hypocrite!
    Babies should come before bears!

  43. These bears are another poor animal which is being hunted by People who have no respect for animals only for personal gain. Feel sorry for this lady who was only doing what any other human would do when hearing a cry for help. Hope she wins her appeal.

  44. Don’t ever stop! You have thousands who cheer and support you!! You go girl!! Yay YOU!! 👏👏👏👏👏👏👍👍👍❤️❤️ Thank you for your courage to do the RIGHT thing!!

  45. Don’t ever stop! You have thousands who cheer and support you!! You go girl!! Yay YOU!! 👏👏👏👏👏👏👍👍👍❤️❤️ Thank you for your courage to do the RIGHT thing!!

  46. Respekt for the animals! And for those who understand the destruction that humans stand for and do something about it


  48. They should have helped her NOT arrested her. What is happening to humanity when men enjoy brutality towards animals and a baby Bear Cub what kind of Bastards are they. and a so called judge who has no moral fibre but supports cruelty should be kicked off the bench, his family must be so proud of his attitude towards bullying and supporting barbaric suffering,

  49. I would have done the same thing. The judge must be an asshole to want to take the life of a baby animal. What is next he will let it be ok to abuse human babies next. What a piece of crap

  50. This is in New Jersey? Animal cruelty is simply unjustifiable. So there are idiots in law enforcement even in a supposedly progressive state

  51. I’m sure law enforcement can be more useful elsewhere. As far as that- Judge ( I use the term loosely), he should be ashamed of himself.

  52. Catherine and Mark you are heroes!!! It is an absolute travesty of justice that you should be incriminated in any way!!! This system is so wrong!

  53. Catherine and Mark are hero’s in my book. The horrific traps should be banned! Thank you for doing the right thing! So good to hear about good people showing compassion to our wildlife.

  54. Then, if that’s the law, the law needs to be changed, the inhumane traps outlawed, and the hearts of cold-blooded killers/trappers need to come to life and get some feeling in them!

  55. Yes, I have read all of this. Point is…WHAT CAN WE DO??? I live in Australia, am equally outraged, but someone please advise. Online comments aren’t enough. Help someone!!!!

  56. “So, what are you in for?”
    “Oh, I freed a crying bear cub from a trap.”

    It’s crazy. Since I started reading this blog a while back I quickly came to realize that our government officials, organizations, and even the judges don’t give a lick about wildlife or the people trying to protect wildlife. Someone tries to raise a sickly deer, they come and destroy it. They open season on vulnerable wolf populations across the country and allow those awful competitions to happen wherein hundreds of animals are killed for prizes. But they jail someone trying to save the life of just one bear.

    Bless those activists like Catherine and Mark. They’re just trying to do good when the odds are against them.

  57. Absolutely disgusting that this compassionate woman got arrested and jailed for being a compassionate individual. She is a hero who is fighting the good fight for those who cannot speak for themselves .

  58. Thank you for doing the right thing. Government is evil and so are hunters who kill when not hungry-for “sport”-not sporting considering their weapons and the time.

  59. Good for her! Of course she’d be punished for doing the right thing. Our new society.
    If she was selling drugs,killing someone, or robbing she’d get a slap on wrist.

  60. I am sorry but I too would have released that cub. It is cruel and and abuse of a defenseless baby animal. I would release any animal that I found in distress. Sorry state stick it up your ass

  61. It was in a condo complex & set by FWS to relocate the bears before some dumb person gets mauled by the bears. Once a bear attacks and harms a person that bear is killed

  62. I also think she is a hero and I applaud her actions!! Rather than watch a baby cub suffer, she did something about it. Traps should be ILLEGAL!!!

  63. The human race will be judged by the way it treats the animals. We are FAILING, to protect Creators, sentient beings.


  64. I would have done the same!! This lady should not be sentenced and fined for doing something any decent human being would do!! Disgusting, talk about misplaced justice!!

  65. What the h*** is wrong and people? Why don’t they stay in their own turf and then they wouldn’t have these problems! What bears no longer deserve a habitat? People are so F and greedy

  66. So proud of this lady !!!! Where is the justice system in convicting a person doing the right thing!!!! Very disgusted she was punished by a so called court of law!!!

  67. The justice system is backwards the criminals get all the benefits and the innocent people get put in jail what is the purpose of putting a 50 year old woman in jail for helping a baby cub get back to its mama are you f****** people insane. What a waste of tax dollars a waste of text dollars that constituents pay

  68. This should be too much against humanity, against a good work. Man is an intelligent animal. This is nothing to controversy. Because one should carry the cub and free in the jungle. Last time one news came that a wild bear who was too much social among people were killed by police. This is wrong as humans are socializing the wild where is the mistaken of the animal to kill brutally. Is it a genuine law against an innocent.???

  69. She is a wonderful woman that should be rewarded and not punished for saving an animal from suffering.
    The world is full of evil pos that get away with horrible things all the time. The legal system protects bad people and good people get punished. I WOULD HAVE DONE THE SAME. WTH.

  70. I don’t find them guilty of wrong doing
    People leave these animals be
    If live trapping in safe bear cages as long as conservation people aren’t going to kill the bears once caught then catch the ones too close to people & relocate them to the wild
    I live in a small town wild bear here quite often they don’t really bother us or our pets so we let them come around respect them
    I’ve been 5 feet away from a few wild bear here in my yard my dogs have treed them & or ran them off & dogs come back when I call them for their safety
    I’ve been between mommas & cubs briefly to get a photo then back off so babies climb fence to go be with momma
    Don’t hand feed them & only once an orphaned Black bear went in my garbage no other wildlife has been in it before or since that one day
    I told baby bear to stay outta the garbage funny thing is he listened
    Don’t bother them & keep your garbage containers bear proof & if need be let conservation relocate them safely eventually they learn to stay away from people jmho
    Let that lady go tnx she didn’t really do wrong

  71. It’s cruel to kill animals and set traps, the woman and the man did good ,she shouldn’t face going to jail,and no charges should be bought against them, the justice system should be changed ,

  72. Do we have a GoFundMe page for her fine? Cause screw that! She shouldn’t have to go to jail AND pay a thousand + dollars for having a frigging heart. Just $5 from people would at least help!

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