WEEK-LONG BEAR HUNTING SEASON BEGINS IN NORTHWESTERN NEW JERSEY
(10/P140) TRENTON –The Department of Environmental Protection today announced that the State's first black bear hunting season since 2005 opened this morning just prior to sunrise and will continue through sunset on Saturday, Dec. 11. The season runs concurrently with the six-day firearm deer season.
As of noon, 40 bears had been harvested. The largest was a 367-pound male taken by a hunter in Sussex County. The first bear was a two-year-old male taken by a Lyndhurst police officer and checked at the Pequest Wildlife Management Area.
The Division of Fish and Wildlife has issued 6,680 permits for the week-long hunt. The hunt is designed to reduce an overpopulation of black bears in the northwestern part of New Jersey, which has experienced a rising number of public complaints due to bear-human encounters.
"We are looking forward to a safe and controlled black bear hunt, which is just one component of our Comprehensive Black Bear Management Policy,'' said Commissioner Martin. "The overall goal is to reduce the number of bears to a more manageable number, while improving public safety by reducing bear encounters with people."
In addition to hunting, the black bear policy includes public education, research, bear habitat analysis and protection, non-lethal bear management techniques, and enhanced efforts to keep human food sources, especially household trash, away from bears to limit bear-human encounters.
The Appellate Division of Superior Court on Friday declined to issue a stay of the DEP's approval of a black bear hunt, and a state Supreme Court Justice on Saturday also upheld the hunt.
The New Jersey Fish and Game Council cited increasing damage to personal property and threats to public safety as key reasons for its decision to recommend a hunt part of the state's bear management strategy.
New Jersey boasts a robust bear population, with the latest estimate at more than 3,400 bears in Northwest Jersey, according to DEP Senior Wildlife Biologist Patrick Carr. There are also an uncounted number of black bears elsewhere in the state, with bears spotted in every county in New Jersey. Sightings have increased in many suburban towns and urban areas, Carr added.
State wildlife biologists predict between 300 to 700 bears may be harvested during this hunting season.
Bear hunting is taking place in portions of a 1,000-square-mile area north of Route 78 and West of Route 287. This area is divided into four Bear Management Zones, including portions of Bergen, Hunterdon, Morris, Passaic, Somerset, Sussex and Warren counties, which are home to the majority of the state's black bears.
The hunt is open only to licensed hunters with approved permits to hunt in one of the designated zones. Hunters must have completed a mandatory bear hunter education seminar.
Only one bear of either sex may be taken by a hunter, and all harvested bears must be taken to one of five approved bear-check stations to be recorded, and for any necessary biological testing.
Hunters should check the DEP's website at www.njfishandwildlife.com/bearseas10.htm for specific information on hunt rules and regulations.
To read the State's Comprehensive Black Bear Management Policy, visit: http://www.nj.gov/dep/fgw/bearpolicy10.htm
For tips on proper garbage management and coexisting with bears, visit: http://www.njfishandwildlife.com/bearfacts_avoid.htm