After 2 full days of New Jersey Bear Hunt complete, NJ Fish And Wildlife officials say that 27 Bears have been harvested. This is a major decline from the totals last year where 87 Bears were killed. A hunter showed up early Monday afternoon with a Bear who weighed in at 510 pounds! Since Governor Murphy banned the bear hunt on state land, more hunters went to Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area, because that's owned by The National Park Service.
The bear hunt phase one in October resulted in only 140 bears harvested, a dramatic decline from 244 in 2017, and 562 in 2016. Governor Murphy's bear hunt ban on state land has been both credited and blamed for the declining totals. Is it odd that deer can be hunted on state land, but bears cannot?
The Bear hunt continues to generate more controversy all over Jersey. The DEP announced to increase nonlethal plans for population management, but this has been met with more criticism.
Earlier this month, groups representing hunters started suing the Governor Murphy order to ban the bear hunt on state land. The New Jersey Outdoor Alliance, Safari Club International, and Sportsmen's Alliance Foundation are all involved with this challenge. They're alleging that Governor Murphy is making this order based on pure politics and emotion, as opposed to science backed by The Fish And Game Council.
Even though Governor Murphy signed the order banning hunting for bears on state lands, the state is still selling up to 11,000 hunting permits. While there will be less land, the amount of hunters could be the same or even higher. Some are also questioning both against and in favor of how effective this ban will actually be. Many who support the ban are worried about it being too tough to enforce, those opposing it are worried about negative impacts from bear overpopulation.
Our local state legislators, State Senator Steve Oroho, Assembly members Hal Wirths and Parker Space have all spoken out against Governor Murphy's executive order he signed this limiting the Bear Hunt. While Governor Murphy is requesting Jersey Legislature to sign legislation banning the Bear Hunt, local Republicans will fight any more changes, including changes to The Fish And Game Council. The state is claiming that approximately 40% of bears hunted have happened on state land.
Photo by Steve Allan