New Jersey Reinstates Controversial Bear Hunt Following Increased Sightings

by Lauren Boisvert
(Photo by Jared Lloyd/Getty Images)

On Tuesday in Trenton, New Jersey, the Department of Fish and Wildlife held a meeting to reinstate the bear hunt. This hunt previously caused much controversy in the state. Governor Phil Murphy stated that they are moving ahead with the decision because of recent bear sightings.

Wildlife officials have also stated that the black bear population could grow to 4,000 in the next two years. Because of this, New Jersey is hoping to curb the bear population before it grows out of control.

“While I committed to ending the bear hunt, the data demands that we act now to prevent tragic bear-human interactions,” said Governor Murphy at the meeting. Additionally, the meeting also allowed for public comment. There were statements from people both for and against the hunt.

Former N.J. State Senator Ray Lesniak stated, “Governor Murphy’s decision to recommend the resumption of bear hunts based on information provided by the Fish and Game Council should be reconsidered and more effective measures to reduce bear-human interactions should be enacted.”

The president of the New Jersey State Federation of Sportsmen’s Clubs, Wade Stein, said, “I would like to say, ‘Thank you,’ to Gov. Murphy and his administration for their courage to look at the scientific facts about the black bear population, and allowing the black bear hunt to take place.”

NJ resident Debra Herrington claimed she hasn’t seen a bear in two years. While Angi Metler of the Animal Protection League of New Jersey said, “The Imminent Emergency Rule is a new political tactic used by fish-and-game agencies to circumvent public opposition, comment and input. This is not an emergency.”

New Jersey Reinstates Controversial Bear Hunt

The bear hunt will coincide with the six-day deer season, from Dec. 5 to 10. If the goal to decrease the bear population by 20% isn’t met, then hunting will be extended from Dec. 14 to 17. Before the meeting, environmentalists and conservationists had opposed the hunt.

“Governor Murphy campaigned to end the bear hunt and has flipped on his promise,” said New Jersey Director of the Sierra Club, Anjuli Ramos-Busot, in a statement. “This is extremely disappointing, especially since protecting wildlife is a critical component of our work at the Sierra Club who have 3.8 million members and supporters nationwide.”

According to reports from the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, the black bear population in Morris, Passaic, Sussex, and Warren counties has reached 3,000. WABC reports that bear encounters are up 237 percent in the last year in New Jersey. Additionally, there have been 62 aggressive human-bear encounters, 12 dog attacks, 12 home entries, and 52 livestock attacks. Residents in bear-populated areas should be cautious as bears are more active this time of year heading into hibernation.