Court Rules NJ Bear Hunt Can Go Forward

STATE – An appellate court ruled today that New Jersey’s black bear hunt can go forward.

Two animal protection groups hoped to stop the hunt, which is set to begin on Monday, Dec. 5, and last for six days. More than 6,400 people have applied for hunting permits.

“This ruling affirms the science- and fact- based policy that we have adopted as part of a comprehensive approach to managing black bears in New Jersey,” said NJ Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Bob Martin. “The plan is a legitimate response to deal with a large black bear population and a resultant increase in public complaints about bear and human encounters. This is a public safety issue that requires responsible action by the state.”

Attorneys for the Animal Protection League of New Jersey and the Bear Education and Resource Group argued that the NJDEP’s Comprehensive Black Bear Management Policy (CBBMP) is flawed and should be declared invalid.

The groups had also tried to stop last year’s hunt, during which 592 bears were taken.

The court acknowledged that there were differences of opinion in expert findings offered by both sides in the case, but did not find sufficient cause to overturn the plan and stop the hunt.

According to the ruling, “Despite the conflicting opinions, the CBBMP contains significant substantive professional and scientific support for its conclusions.”

The bear hunt will run through Saturday, Dec. 10, to be held concurrently with the state’s six-day firearm deer hunting season. Bear hunting zones include large sections of Morris, Sussex, Warren, and northern Passaic counties, plus smaller areas of Hunterdon, Somerset and Bergen counties. There is a limit of one bear per licensed and registered hunter.

NJDEP Population estimates show there are some 3,400 black bears in a 1,000 square-mile hunting area north of Route 78 and west of Route 287, with the population highest in the northwest corner of the state, which has one of the highest black bear densities in the nation. There also are a smaller but uncounted number of bears in the rest of New Jersey’s 21 counties, with reports of bear sightings occurring in the past few years in more eastern and central portions of the state.

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