New Jersey DEP Rejects Hunt Postponement

New Jersey DEP, Bear Hunting Magazine

he New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Bob Martin rejected a request for a stay of the scheduled New Jersey bear hunt, which was authorized under the State's recently adopted Comprehensive Black Bear Management Policy (CBBMP).

The Commissioner, responding to a November 17th written request by the Animal Protection League of New Jersey and the Bear Education and Resource Group, declined to postpone an upcoming six-day hunt scheduled for a seven-county region, including parts of Sussex, Warren, Hunterdon, Passaic, Morris, Somerset and Bergen counties, that is scheduled to start December 6, 2010.

"The facts are clear, we have an overpopulation of black bears in New Jersey, and we must address that issue,' said Commissioner Martin. "A regulated black bear hunt is one important and necessary tool to deal with the growing number of bears, as part of the State's overall, comprehensive approach to managing its black bear population.'

The most recent black bear population estimate for the portion of New Jersey north of Interstate 80 is approximately 3,400 animals, which is a marked rise from less than 500 in the mid-1990s. Bears also have been reported in all 21 counties, with a corresponding rise in bear complaints.

Commissioner Martin, in a letter sent today to the two groups that appealed the hunt, also confirmed the accuracy of the DEP's data on bear complaints and bear-human encounters caused by the increasing black bear population, despite contrary public claims of inflated numbers made by a Rutgers chemistry professor.

A thorough review of bear complaints for 2008 and 2009 by the DEP's Office of Audit showed virtually no duplication of complaint reports and verified the accuracy of the information provided in the Black Bear Management Policy, said Commissioner Martin. The audit showed that less than 1 percent of about 3,000 bear complaints registered by DEP in each of those years may have resulted from duplication of information.

The black bear hunt is scheduled to run concurrent with the six-day firearm deer hunting season in portions of a 1,000 square-mile area north of Route 78 and west of Route 287.

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