UPDATE: While the future of bear hunting in New Jersey is still uncertain, the 2017 season has been extended four days; December 13-16. According to a Division of Fish and Wildlife press release, the season was extended "to achieve harvest objectives that protect public safety and maintain a sustainable bear population." More information on the extended dates can be found here.
So far the 2017 season has been a success, as hunters harvested 244 bears in first phase archery and muzzleloader season, with an additional 138 bears taken in the second phase firearms only season.
With the election of Phil Murphy as governor, the future of New Jersey holding a black bear season is in peril.
Although a formal decision won’t be made until 2018, the hunt’s future seemed to be sealed on election night. During his campaign, Murphy said he would impose a moratorium on the hunt and criticized Gov. Chris Christie for holding hunts every year since he took office.
Between 2003 and 2010, SCI advocated for and defended black bear hunting in New Jersey. SCI participated in lawsuits, defended the state when anti-hunters attacked the hunts, and filed numerous comments in support of the hunts.
Now, 13 years after SCI was first involved, sportsmen and women continue to enjoy black bear hunting in New Jersey.
SCI will continue to promote and defend well-regulated hunting, including bear hunting in New Jersey and other states. SCI will continue to urge states to use scientific data and established conservation methods as the best way to manage wildlife and habitat.
Although some, including Governor-elect Murphy, may think it is preferable to appease their constituents by shutting down hunting, such emotionally-based responses brought in the name of conservation fail to be in the best interest of wildlife.
Without bear hunting, it will be much more difficult for New Jersey to control the number of human-bear conflicts and maintain a stable and healthy bear population.