State officials unanimously approve new bear hunt despite opposition from some

Bear encounters have increased by 237% in the last 10 months compared to a year ago, according to data.

News 12 Staff

Nov 15, 2022, 11:25 AM

Updated 615 days ago

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The New Jersey Fish and Game Commission unanimously voted to reinstate the black bear hunt, less than a week after Gov. Phil Murphy reversed his commitment to get rid of the hunt.
The governor campaigned on a position to end the hunt – something he did successfully for a time.
“Many of these folks voted for Gov. Murphy because of his campaign promise on the black bear hunt and he has betrayed on that promise,” says Brian Hackett, of the Animal Legal Defense Fund.
The decision by the Fish and Game Commission was not a popular one among many of the 40+ people who spoke during the hearing – including former state Sen. Ray Lesniak.
“It was scripted. It was put in place by the governor and the commissioner, and the council followed suit. Not necessary. No emergency and counterproductive,” Lesniak says. “We’re going to court to stop it.”
Murphy and the commission said that the reason to reinstate the hunt is due to an increase in the bear population. Officials say that bear sightings between January and October of this year increased by 237%. There have been 62 encounters with humans, one person and 12 dogs were attacked; there were 12 home entries, 89 instances of property damage and 52 attacks on protected livestock.
The bear hunt is scheduled for Dec. 5-10, with new restrictions. Bear cubs under 75 pounds are off limits, as are adult bears traveling with cubs. Baiting will also be banned.
Some people applauded the hunt being reinstated.
“I would like to say thank you to Gov. Murphy and his administration for their courage to look at the scientific facts about the black bear population and allow a black bear hunt to take place,” says Wade Stein, president of the New Jersey State Federation of Sportsman Clubs.
But most who attended the meeting felt the opposite.
“What we have instead is a political emergency by the governor who wants to run for president and feels that if he comes out against the hunt while being for gun control, it will hurt him in states like New Hampshire, Iowa and Pennsylvania when he runs for president,” says Jeff Tittel, of the New Jersey Bear Coalition.
Permits could be issued as soon as Thursday. There will be legal challenges - at least two from Lesniak - who says the council vote violates the state constitution.


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