The hunting of black bears could soon end in New Jersey as a bill is being tabled that, if passed, would make it illegal.
Black bear hunting continues to generate controversy in New Jersey. The future of the hunt is again in jeopardy after the recent vote by the Assembly Environment and Solid Waste Committee, which passed a motion to push a bill that would end bear hunting. They also voted to stop expansion of the current 6-day hunt.
With a vote of 5-1 with only one Assemblyman, Scott Rumana, R-Wayne, in support of continuing the hunt, the bill will now move forward to lawmakers.
The move to end bear hunting has not been universally supported, and residents are voicing their concerns about the increasing black bear populations.
A New Jersey Farm Bureau research assistant, Ed Wengryn, had this to say:
“We already know there are bears in the Pinelands, if they get into the cranberries and blueberries, they could devastate those crops.”
Other groups are increasingly vocal in their opposition of the hunt, as evidenced by comments such as those from Brian Hackett, the New Jersey State Director of the American Humane Society:
“The bear hunt is truly a stain on our state and our state’s reputation,” he told lawmakers.
The measure will also look to reverse the Department of Environmental Protection ruling that expanded the black bear hunt and proposed to increase hunting permit availability from 10,000 to 11,000.
After the re-introduction of bow hunting after a 40-year hiatus, as well as increases in hunting opportunities, it seems that the hunting of black bears may come to an end in New Jersey unless interested parties of landowners and hunters come together to keep this important bear management tool alive.