NJ on Track for First Bear Hunt in Five Years

Council approves six-day hunt for December

By Brian Thompson
|  Tuesday, Mar 9, 2010  |  Updated 11:55 AM EDT
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Black Bear Captured in Wayne

Smithsonian Institution

The bear population has been steadily increasing in New Jersey.

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Black Bear Captured in Wayne

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New Jersey is on track to resume a bear hunt last held five years ago.
  
The state's Fish and Wildlife Council approved a draft management plan Tuesday morning that aims to contain the state's growing black bear population. The plan calls for a return to hunting, which former Gov. Jon Corzine had previously blocked in favor of non-lethals controls. 
  
The plan still needs the approval of the DEP commissioner, but that's expected in time for a six day hunt season this December.

Animal-rights activists are up in arms over the proposal.
  
"You are all wildlife murderers," bear advocate Barbara Sachau seethed during a meeting of the Fish and Wildlife Council.

New Jersey State Director for Humane Society of the United States, Heather Cammisa, added that her group "categorically opposes" a return to the hunt.

But DEP Bear Management Supervisor Pat Carr told the council that the animal's population in the far northwest corner of the state has more than tripled in the past decade, with a corresponding increase in nuisance complaints from humans.

"There are now sightings in all 21 counties," Carr said.

New Jersey has more animals per square mile than any other state in the nation, according to Dave Chanda, Director of the Division of Fish and wildlife. And while the proposed hunt would be restricted to the northwest portion of the state, residents throughout are relieved to have something done to ensure their safety.

As Council Chairwoman Jeannette Vreeland pointed out about the bear, "He runs faster than I can [and] he's stronger than I am."

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