Wednesday, February 24, 2010
Will the Black Bear Hunt Return to NJ in 2010?
Former Gov. Jon Corzine had suspended the last hunt in 2006, but some news reports say that Gov. Chris Christie favors a bear hunt.
A bill was introduced for a new $28 fee on bear hunters that would raise money for the bear management program and it would give the Council sole discretion about a hunt each year.
Corzine had committed to non-lethal bear management.
The Division of Fish and Wildlife saw statistical decreases in complaints about black bear "nuisance" incidents after there were hunts in 2003 and 2005.
Most complaints are about bears getting into garbage, destroying beehives, breaking into homes, destroying livestock and rabbits or attacking dogs.
Complaint calls increased to 900 in 2007 and 1,869 in 2008.
Besides hunting, alternative management includes "averse conditioning," bear-resistant garbage cans and dumpsters, and educating citizens about the Black Bear Feeding Ban Law.
The current population of black bears in NJ is a bit unclear. I found a 2005 population count of at least 1,500 bears. (The area surveyed was a 580-square-mile area of northern New Jersey.) In 1988, when there was a hunt, the population was estimated to be about 150.
Our Jersey Bears are not endangered or threatened. They have an excellent reproductive rate (averaging three cubs to each female) and an extremely strong 70% survival rate.
A number of groups, including the West Milford-based Bear Education and Resource Group, oppose a bear hunt and point to evidence that shows that hunting is an ineffective longterm solution. But other groups, such as New Jersey Hunter, are in favor of the hunt.
Black Bear: North America's Bear