The initial reports are out, and despite high expectations, the 2014 New Jersey bear hunting season is producing fewer harvests than expected.
This year’s bear hunting season officially opened in New Jersey Dec. 8, and so far, only 164 bears have been harvested. At the halfway point of the season, that’s one below last year’s total after the same amount of time.
State officials had high hopes for this season since they have already issued more than 7,800 hunting permits (with some still available for purchase), compared with just 7,700 for the entire 2013 New Jersey bear hunting season.
Hunters and wildlife officials are blaming the poor harvest numbers for the opening two days on poor weather conditions of heavy rain and high winds. Fortunately for hunters, the weather is forecast to improve significantly, and bear harvest numbers should correspondingly increase.
The 2014 New Jersey bear hunting season ends Dec. 13.
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At the time of this writing, hunters had harvested 104 bears in Sussex County, 42 in Warren County, 19 in Morris County, 18 in Passaic County (where a young man was killed by a black bear in September), four in Hunterdon County, and two in Bergen County.
Though the annual bear hunting season has generated significant controversy among anti-hunters in New Jersey, state wildlife officials have stated that the hunt is achieving its goal of reducing the bear population and by extension, reducing negative human interactions with bears.
Since 2010, the black bear population in New Jersey has decreased from approximately 3,400 to 2,500 bears.