Court Orders 2007 NJ Bear Hunt Stopped

Bear Hunting Magazine

Washington, D.C. - Safari Club International, the USSA and other sportsmen's groups continue to fight for bear hunting in New Jersey and its use as a management tool to help control the state's growing black bear population.

Today, the New Jersey appellate court issued a ruling that frustrated those efforts. The court determined that the state failed to adopt its comprehensive black bear management policies in accordance with state procedural requirements. The court's ruling today invalidated the 2005 policies, leaving the state with no Black Bear Management Policies in effect and without the ability to implement a 2007 black bear season.

"Unfortunately, the court's decision allows New Jersey bear management to continue to be driven by politics instead of by science," said SCI President Dennis Anderson.

The policies had been established in 2005 and had made it possible for New Jersey to hold a bear season in December 2005. In November 2006, the Commissioner of New Jersey's Department of Environmental Protection abruptly withdrew the 2005 policies, and prevented a 2006 New Jersey black bear hunt. SCI, USSA and other wildlife and sportsmen's groups sued to challenge that withdrawal.

Despite a growing bear population and increasing numbers of human/bear incidents, New Jersey's DEP Commissioner made it impossible for a bear hunt to take place in 2006 and has recently recommended the adoption of new policies that would use only non-lethal bear management strategies for the near future. The New Jersey Fish and Game Council, which is charged by law with developing the state's black bear management policies, has proposed a combination of hunting seasons to help control the population and minimize adverse human-bear conflicts and non-lethal strategies to further minimize conflicts. Until the Commissioner agrees to policies developed by the Council, the state cannot hold any black bear seasons and the bear population and number of conflicts will continue to rise.

SCI and the United States Sportsman's Alliance will continue to fight for black bear hunting in New Jersey. The various groups involved are considering whether to appeal today's ruling.

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