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New Jersey's Black Bear Hunting Season

 
2016 SEASON DATES
Segment A: October 10-15 (bow/muzzleloader)

Segment B: December 5-10 (firearm only)
Permits Now On Sale
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Second Segment of Black Bear Hunting Season Opens December 5

The Division of Fish and Wildlife, based upon the recommendations of the New Jersey Fish and Game Council, last year adopted an updated Comprehensive Black Bear Management Policy that expanded areas available for hunting and added a six-day October hunting season (Segment A), split between archery only followed by archery and muzzleloader rifles.

Segment B of the 2016 black bear hunting season will commence a half-hour before sunrise on Monday, December 5. This segment is for firearms only and runs concurrently with the Six-day Firearm Deer Season. The goal of New Jersey's bear hunting season is to keep the population sustainable and healthy and to reduce potential conflicts with people.

It is anticipated that the scheduled six-day hunt for Segment B will be closed early due to a successful bow/muzzleloader rifle season (Segment A) in October, during which a total of 562 bears were harvested. Of these, 23.4 percent were previously tagged bears.

The second segment will be suspended once the cumulative harvest rate of tagged bears for both segments reaches 30 percent. The segment closure will take effect 24 hours after the legal closing time on the day the Division of Fish and Wildlife has determined that the 30 percent harvest rate has been achieved. The announcement of the impending closure will be made by way of a news release and posting on the Division of Fish and Wildlife's website.

Each hunter may take one bear. The bear may be of either sex. Five check stations will be open from noon to 7 p.m.

The December hunting segment will take place in five hunting zones that encompass all or parts of Hunterdon, Passaic, Morris, Somerset, Mercer, Sussex and Warren counties, and a small portion of Bergen County. The northwestern part of New Jersey has one of the densest populations of bears in the nation, resulting in the potential for conflicts with people. This part of the state also has one of the nation's highest bear reproduction rates, due largely to abundant food sources and excellent habitat.

Harvest Information

Pine Brook Hunter Receives National Honor - Daily Record, 7/31/16

General Information

The New Jersey black bear hunting season has been held concurrently with the Six-day Firearm Deer Season since 2010. (In 2015 the dates were December 7 through 12, and then extended December 16 - 19.) Participants are required to have a Black Bear Hunting Zone Permit for the zone(s) they hunt in and a current hunting license. All hunters are reminded to observe the 450-foot "Safety Zone" distance around buildings and playgrounds when firearm hunting and the 150-foot distance when bow hunting.

Again in 2016, five bear hunting zones are open to hunting in New Jersey; hunters are restricted to hunting only in the zone(s) for which they possess a permit. Hunters may possess permits for two separate zones; prior to 2016 hunters were limited to one black bear for the season.

New in 2016 is that there are two segments to the bear season: Segment A was October 10-15. The first three days (October 10-12) were for archery only; the final three days (October 13-15) were for both archery and muzzleloading rifle hunters. Segment B is for firearms only and will be held concurrently with the Six-day Firearm Deer Season, December 5-10, with an option for the season to be extended the following week if harvest objectives are not met.

The season bag limit has been increased to two bears, but only one bear per permit and per segment. Once a harvest is made, that permit is no longer valid. Hunters may initially purchase two permits for two different zones, or a second permit for the same zone during Segment B if available. Permits are valid for the entire season (Segments A and B). In Segment A (October) use of bow or firearm was dependent on the day a person was hunting. Permits remain valid in Segment B if no bear was harvested with it in Segment A.

Also new in 2016 was the elimination of the permit lottery; all permits are sold 'over-the-counter' at licence agents and online. Sales for Segment B are now open.

The bear season will close if the harvest rate of bears tagged in 2016 reaches 30%. In the event of a season closure, notification will be on the permit hotline number (609-292-9192), this page and via the NJ Hunting E-mail list. A season closure will become effective 24 hours from the daily legal closing time of the day on which the decision is made.

Detailed information about the 2016 season can be found on pages 12, 26, and 51-53 in the 2016-17 Hunting and Trapping Digest. The Hunting and Trapping Digest is available in August each year.

2016 Regulations Summary (pdf, 260kb)

Bear Season Frequently Asked Questions - Updated for 2016

Black Bear Hunting Zones Maps and Descriptions

After Harvesting a Bear ó Mandatory Bear Check Requirement

Properly licensed hunters who harvest a black bear shall immediately complete and affix to the bear the "Black Bear Transportation Tag" from their Black Bear Hunting Permit. Information included on the black bear transportation tag shall include: the hunterís name, address, Conservation ID Number (CID#); date and time of kill; nearest road, county and municipality of kill; and the sex of the black bear.

Successful hunters must take the black bear to a designated check station by 9 p.m (October segment) and 7 p.m. (December segment) on the day of the kill. Hunters shall surrender the black bear transportation tag and will be issued a legal possession seal.

Any legally killed black bear recovered too late to be brought to a designated black bear check station before closing time above on the date of the kill must be reported immediately by telephone to the Northern Region Office of the Bureau of Law Enforcement (908-735-8240). Hunters must provide their name, address and a telephone number where they can be reached on the telephone message recording device (if a Division representative is not available). Said black bear must be brought to a designated black bear check station the next day to be registered and to receive a legal possession seal. Hunters reporting bears to the law enforcement office after check stations close on Saturday will be contacted by a biologist on Sunday to legally check the bear and collect biological data on Sunday.

Check station access is for hunters checking in bears only.

2016 HARVEST INFORMATION

All data is preliminary and subject to revision.

Black Bear Harvest by Bear Hunting Zone
Bear Hunting Zone Bears Harvested in Segment A Segment A Total Bears Harvested in Segment B Segment B Total Season Total
10/10 10/11 10/12 10/13 10/14 10/15 12/5 12/6 12/7 12/8 12/9 12/10
Zone 1 46 20 7 17 16 15 121               121
Zone 2 64 37 24 25 14 35 199               199
Zone 3 74 32 22 19 19 17 183               183
Zone 4 21 10 9 3 6 8 57               57
Zone 5 1 1 0 0 0 0 2               2
Total 206 100 62 64 55 75 562               562
Harvested Bears
Tagged This Year
17 7 1 5 9 7 46               46
Cumulative Harvest Rate*
8.6% 12.2% 12.7% 15.2% 19.8% 23.4% 23.4%               23.4%
*Based On 197 Tagged Bears Available for Harvest

Black Bear Harvest by County
County Bears Harvested in Segment A Segment A Total Bears Harvested in Segment B Segment B Total Season Total
10/10 10/11 10/12 10/13 10/14 10/15 12/5 12/6 12/7 12/8 12/9 12/10
Sussex 104 49 28 39 29 47 296               296
Warren 36 22 15 7 6 10 96               96
Passaic 19 11 12 8 2 4 56               56
Morris 41 15 6 7 16 13 98               98
Bergen 1 1 0 0 0 1 3               3
Hunterdon 5 2 1 3 2 0 13               13
Somerset 0 0 0 0 0 0 0               0
Mercer 0 0 0 0 0 0 0               0
Total 206 100 62 64 55 75 562               562

PREVIOUS SEASONS HARVEST INFORMATION

RELATED PAGES

Frequently Asked Questions
Comprehensive Black Bear Management Policy
Bear Recipe Guide (pdf, 98kb)

Hunting Permit Information
Non-Resident Hunting Information
NJ Hunting License Information

Bear Facts - Black Bears in New Jersey

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Department of Environmental Protection
P. O. Box 402
Trenton, NJ 08625-0402

Last Updated: November 25, 2016