The massive black bear will probably be the largest killed in New Jersey this year.
When 39-year-old Steven Polanish of Hopatcong, N.J., brought his bear to the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection check station, wildlife officers assumed it would be just another average-size bruin.
"Most of the other bears we've seen today are weighing between 150 and 300 pounds," Larry Ragonese, spokesman for the Department of Environmental Protection, said.
But when they saw Polanish's bear, they were pleasantly surprised.
The bear, which Polanish harvested with a shotgun at Whittingham Wildlife Management Area, weighed in at an impressive 693 pounds. The best part? It happened on opening day.
"We may not see a bear this big again all week," Ragonese said. "You could have a hunt go on for a week and not get a bear so large."
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While not quite a state record, that distinction belongs to a 829-pound behemoth killed several years ago on private property, Polanish's nearly 700-pound bear may end up being the largest taken in New Jersey this year. An average eastern black bear can weigh anywhere between 150 and 500 pounds, making the Polanish bear all the more impressive.
What an opening-day trophy.