No NJ bear hunt in 2021 as key required policy expires

TRENTON, New Jersey -- There will be no black bear hunt in New Jersey this fall for the first time in more than a decade, due to a lack of a bear management policy required to conduct the hunt.

The state Division of Fish and Wildlife posted on its website that the Comprehensive Black Bear Management Policy required under a 2007 state Supreme Court ruling expired Wednesday.

"No black bear hunt may occur without a properly-promulgated CBBMP proposed by the New Jersey Fish and Game Council and approved by the Commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection," the post stated.

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This year's bear hunt might be New Jersey's last -- at least if Gov. Phil Murphy can help it.

Contacted Wednesday, a DEP spokesperson didn't provide additional information on the hunt's cancellation.

Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy pledged to end the bear hunt when he ran for governor in 2017, and the following year he halted bear hunting on public lands that are under the jurisdiction of the DEP.

The bear hunt was reintroduced in New Jersey in 2003 to control the growing bear population, after a nearly three-decade hiatus. It has been held annually since 2010 and has faced ongoing legal challenges from animal protection organizations.

In 2015, Republican Gov. Chris Christie added a second annual hunt in October to the existing hunt in December, increased the number of hunting permits and allowed bow hunting.

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Archers will begin with bow hunting before muzzleloading rifiles can be used in the hunt.

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