New Jersey Split over Bear Hunt

Fish and game council approve bear hunt, but commissioner threatens to stop it

Field & Stream Online Editors

Despite a 10-1 vote approval from the New Jersey Fish and Game Council, the commissioner of environmental protection thinks one bear hunt in last 33 years is enough.

Tuesday, the council voted to hold a six-day black bear hunt this winter to alleviate the rising bear population in the state, which has put a strain on many residents who are tired of worrying over the safety of their pets and cleaning up after the garbage-rummaging bruins, the Newark Star-Ledger reported.

Commissioner Bradley M. Campbell agreed with the bear hunt last December--the first in New Jersey since 1970--but despite the council's near-unanimous vote this he said he would stop the hunt by refusing to issue game permits. "I think it is a matter of credibility that we demonstrate to the public that we are relying on a balanced approach that does not rely solely on hunting," Campbell told reporters. He added that the state would be willing to control the problem with a non-lethal approach, such as chemical sterilization of sows and education seminars for residents.

A primary concern with this year's proposed hunt is the fact that of the 328 bears taken last year, 209 were females, which left antihunters worried about the consequences for future breeding.

Councilman George Howard said he and the other members will look into Campbell's suggested alternatives but concerning his threat to refuse hunting permits, Howard said there are other ways to handle permit issuances. "I think when push comes to shove, they'll see that what's at stake here is the proper management of the black bear resource and this is the only way to do it," Howard told the Star-Ledger.