More Than 100 Bears Killed on First Day of NJ Hunt
As New Jersey's controversial black bear hunt enters day two today, hunters have already killed 105 bruins.
The one-day tally nearly eclipses the total number of bears killed by hunters during a six-day hunt in 2022.
According to the New Jersey Department of environmental protection, the highest number of kills came in Sussex (45) and Warren (37) counties.
For now, the hunt is restricted to bow hunters. Hunters with muzzleloaders will join the hunt Thursday.
New Jersey's Bear Hunt remains controversial
Environmentalists and animal rights activists continue to protest the black bear hunt in New Jersey. They claim the hunt is cruel and that the state is refusing to utilize non-fatal bear control methods.
New Jersey went decades without a legal bear hunt. That ended in 2003 when the DEP authorized the first bear hunt in nearly 30-years.
The hunt was ended by then-governor Jon Corzine in 2006, but was brought back by Chris Christie when he was governor in 2010.
When Phil Murphy was campaigning to succeed Christie, he vowed to permanently end the hunt. He severely restricted bear hunting in 2018 and finally banned all bear hunting in 2021.
Murphy reverses course on bear hunt in New Jersey
After state officials detailed a huge spike in bear-human encounters, Murphy shockingly reversed course last year and allowed a bear hunt to proceed in December.
The DEP reported a 237% increase in nuisance and damage reports involving black bears in New Jersey.
In approving a new hunt, Murphy said, "From the data we have analyzed to the stories we have heard from families across the state, it is clear that New Jersey’s black bear population is growing significantly, and nonlethal bear management strategies alone are not enough to mitigate this trend."
"While I committed to ending the bear hunt, the data demands that we act now to prevent tragic bear-human interactions,” Murphy said.
Murphy ultimately signed off on a five-year bear hunt plan.
Historical numbers from New Jersey's bear hunt
Bear management experts monitor the population of black bears as well as the number of bear-human encounters to judge the impact of the bruin culling.
The annual hunts have generally reduced the bear population between 3% and 6%. The maximum reduction set by the state is 30%.
In 2016, hunters killed a record 636 black bears. That number was reduced to 409 in 2017. Each successive hunt has resulted in fewer bears taken.
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