The New Jersey Fish and Game Council voted to approve changes to its black bear management policy to allow for regulated hunts twice a year in parts of the state. File Photo by Paul D. Vitucci
Sept. 9 (UPI) — The New Jersey Fish and Game Council voted to approve changes to its black bear management policy to allow for regulated hunts twice a year in parts of the state.
The policy will allow for two one-week periods in which black bear can be hunted in defined zones in seven counties, Patch reported. The fact that the vote was held is confirmed by an agenda published by the Fish and Game Council.
The seven counties in which black bear can be hunted are Warren, Sussex, Morris, Passaic, Bergen, Somerset and Hunterdon — according to a map published by New Jersey Fish and Wildlife.
The rules, which are expected to be formally adopted when published in the state register next month, would expire in May 2028, Patch reported.
Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy had reinstated the bear hunt last December by executive order after a one-year absence.
Murphy noted in his executive order last year that he had previously directed state officials to take “all necessary and appropriate actions” to protect black bears and even consider closing lands to hunting the animals.
State officials decided to close the hunting of bear and no bear hunting took place between 2020 and 2022. The hunt was brought back last year because of an increase in human-bear encounters prompted by a rise in bear populations.
“State biologists project that, in the absence of population control measures, the black bear population in the northwest portion of New Jersey would increase to over 4,000 bears in the next two years,” Murphy wrote in the executive order.
“The DEP received 1,538 bear incident reports between January and October 2022, a 237% increase from the same period in 2021, including 1 human attack, 62 aggressive encounters with humans, 12 dog attacks, 12 home entries, 15 attempted home entries, 89 instances of property damage and 52 attacks on protected livestock.”
New Jersey Fish and Wildlife estimates that there are now 3,000 black bear in the state, about double than in 2018.
Hunters must follow specific rules in hunting black bear. Hunters are prohibited from harvesting black bear less than 75 pounds or accompanied by bears weighing less than 75 pounds. Hunters can buy up to two permits for two separate zones but can only harvest one bear.
Only muzzleloader rifles of .44 or larger caliber or shotguns no smaller than 20 gauge and no larger than 10 gauge with rifled slugs can be used. Hunters must possess a rifle permit if using a muzzleloader.
Hunters must immediately take any harvested bear to a check station where Fish and Wildlife personnel will inspect the specimen for sex, weight and size and extract a tooth for aging.