Despite a seemingly slow start Monday and a ban on hunting bears on state-owned land, the harvest numbers on opening day of New Jersey’s black bear archery hunting season are up slightly from last year.
The Whittingham station was also the focus of what has become an annual protest against the bear hunt and resulted in the arrests of four protesters. According to a story by Bruce Scruton in the New Jersey Herald, protesters ran into the road to block vehicles bringing in bears to the Whittingham Wildlife Management check station. The protesters were arrested for refusing to move from the middle of the street. Some of the protesters had been arrested on multiple occasions, one has been arrested for the same charge for the last 9 years.
The recent ban on bear hunting on state land by New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy does not go far enough, according to hunt opponents. Calling the Governor “Phony Phil,” the protesters were angry that the Governor did not enforce a complete ban on the fall bear hunt as he had promised in his campaign. An increased number of protesters, including representatives of Sierra Club, were incensed that the hunt was going forward.
SCI, in conjunction with the New Jersey Outdoor Alliance and the Sportsman’s Alliance, battled to persuade the Governor to continue to allow bear hunts on state-owned lands. When the decision was made to ban the hunt on state lands, SCI and its partners jumped into the fray and filed a lawsuit in Appellate Court challenging Murphy’s ban.
“New Jersey has held successful and scientifically-sound black bear hunts since 2010, but this year the new governor promised to stop the hunt regardless of what the state’s own wildlife professionals decide,” said SCI President Paul Babaz. “SCI and its partners have battled to protect New Jersey’s bear hunt since 2004 and we will continue to support science-based management over emotion-driven decisions.”