New Jersey's controversial bear hunt returns

ByEyewitness News WABC logo
Monday, October 9, 2023
New Jersey's controversial bear hunt returns
New Jersey's controversial bear hunt returned Monday, following a Superior Court judge's ruling. Toni Yates has the latest.

NEW JERSEY (WABC) -- New Jersey's controversial bear hunt returned Monday, following a Superior Court judge's ruling.

The archery segment of the hunt will run from October 9 to 14.

The weigh station is located in Newton, New Jersey. Hunters must bring their catch to one of these posts to be recorded.

"Our overall goal for management of this species is to maintain a robust population in New Jersey, a population that can coexist with humans," said David Golden, Assistant Commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Golden says the department also promotes garbage management, education for outdoor enthusiasts to prevent bear interactions and research to figure out how to make coexisting for people and the bears easier.

Staunch opponents like animal rights activist and former state Senator Ray Lesniak are still fighting in court, saying the hunt is unnecessary and inhumane.

"We're killing bears when there is no reason to do that," Lesniak said. "There are half the number of bears that the Fish and Game Council says there have been."

It's a matter of elbow room by the department's calculations.

"New Jersey is the most densely populated state," Golden said. "In some areas we have the highest bear density in the country, and when you have a high bear, high human density, you're in a situation where you have a lot of human, bear interactions."

They want hunters to take about 20% of the black bear population. They say that 20% is enough to cut down on negative bear human encounters.

Last year's hunt was only half the season. Golden says even that made a difference.

"This year we saw a slight reduction in incidents following the hunt," he said. "When it was closed, we saw an increase in bear, human incidents."

A hunt is planned for December 4 to 9, and but the season could be extended up to six more days if less than 20% of the black bears are not taken, or if activists finally prevail.

New Jersey's Fish and Game Council just approved the annual event through 2028, saying the population needs to be trimmed.


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