In keeping with past trends, there was a steep drop-off on the second day of New Jersey’s bear hunt, the first in the state in five years.
From this story in the New Jersey Herald:
_As in the two previous bear hunts, there was a steep drop-off in the number of bears killed from day one to day two. Hunters had checked in 77 bears Tuesday as of 5 p.m., bringing the total number of kills for the first couple of days of New Jersey’s first bear hunt since 2005 to 341 animals.
The largest bear to be killed through Tuesday weighed in at 661 pounds.
“We think the hunt
is going well,” said Larry Ragonese, spokesman for the state Department of Environmental Protection’s Division of Fish and Wildlife. “Our goal of creating a more manageable bear population seems to be working.”
_Ragonese said he anticipated that this year’s total bear harvest will fall well within the range of 300 to 700 animals projected by the DEP.
No injuries or incidents involving hunters or protesters were reported Tuesday, although one hunter was investigated for a possible safety violation.
A 17-year-old Jefferson teen was investigated by the Division of Fish and Wildlife after he allegedly shot and killed a bear within 250 feet of two homes on Monday. The hunter, who Ragonese said has a valid hunting license and bear permit, shot the bear from inside the shell of a house that his family plans on moving into upon its completion. A neighbor called police after hearing the shots Monday afternoon, and the Division of Fish and Wildlife later sent a conservation officer to investigate.
Ragonese said the construction site is at the end of a wooded area where hunting is allowed, and the hunter didn’t fire in the direction of any nearby homes. However, under state law, hunters are not allowed to fire weapons within 450 feet of any building without the owner’s consent. The Division of Fish and Wildlife hadn’t decided what action to take against the hunter as of Tuesday, Ragonese said.
While many hunters both in-state and out-of-state were already almost fully equipped to delve into the bear hunt, the hunt did produce higher demand for several items at area sports shops that sell hunting gear.
Under the regulations established for the bear hunt by the Division of Fish and Wildlife, hunters are allowed to use shotguns loaded with 10-, 12-, 16- or 20-gauge variations of lead projectiles known as slugs, or single-barrel rifle muzzleloaders no smaller than .44 caliber. Use of various baits is permitted as well, with certain restrictions. Richard Peter, co-owner of Simon Peter Sports Co. in Andover Township, said that because hunters use much of the same gear for deer hunts as they do for bear hunts, there wasn’t a tremendous growth in sales at his store in the months leading up to the bear hunt. Rather, there was a shift in demand to certain products.
“Since you can’t use buckshot for bears, the hunters went to slugs, which are bear-legal,” Peter said. “We also saw a slight increase in the sale of slug guns.” Peter said the store also saw an increase in sales of animal-grade molasses and apples, two items commonly used as bear bait.
Meanwhile, Gov. Chris Christie said at a press conference in East Rutherford he would consider cutting short the state’s bear hunt if state wildlife officials recommend it. Christie said his decision to allow the bear hunt was science-based, not philosophical. He added that he doesn’t personally hunt._