One of the lead stories on the Front Page of NJ Nature Notes this week has to do with the completion of the 2011 edition of the Black Bear hunt in New Jersey, where 469 bears were taken. (I tried to keep that term neutral for the sake of this article.)
As with white-tailed deer, this is a very difficult issue and there may be no good answer. There are strong arguments on both sides. The questions may appear simple, but the issue is very complex. Here are some typical statements:
There are too many bears in the state.
They were here first and WE moved into THEIR territory. We’re pushing them out so let them live.
They pose a safety problem to us, our property and pets.
We create the problems. Keep pets out of harms way, and food and waste properly covered and everything is OK.
Hunters will consume the bear meat and not hunt for trophy reasons (pelts, stuffed animals, etc.).
We hunt bears only to satisfy barbaric needs.
We’re more important than bears. We come first.
Bears are an integral part of our environment and must be considered as essential.
This can go on and on. I’m sure there are at least a dozen other arguments, both pro and con, that can be placed here.
I have definite thoughts about hunting White-tailed deer, but feel more ambiguous about Black Bear. Perhaps I don’t have enough information, but I AM trying to see both sides.
WHAT DO YOU THINK?
What do people in our region think is right, or should be done? Do you have an idea that hasn’t been tried? Would you change how this is conducted? Answer as if yours was the last response that would tip the balance to favor your way of thinking.
PLEASE take the poll and then type your reasons, below, where it says “ADD A COMMENT” (below). Be as terse or verbose as you feel is right for you. You don’t have to use your real name (although you may) …we’re not looking at pointing fingers. We just want to get a feel for what readers are thinking.
Should there be a Black Bear hunt? Should it not be renewed for next year? Do you suggest modifications, or something else altogether. What DO you think?
This column also appears regularly in Mr. Wolfert's blog, Nature Notes...a Lifelong Journey.