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Nature Scene: New Jersey's Black Bear Hunt

What are your thoughts on the New Jersey Black bear hunt?

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:

  1. There are too many bears in the state.

  2. They were here first and WE moved into THEIR territory. We’re pushing them out so let them live.

  3. They pose a safety problem to us, our property and pets.

  4. We create the problems. Keep pets out of harms way, and food and waste properly covered and everything is OK.

  5. Hunters will consume the bear meat and not hunt for trophy reasons (pelts, stuffed animals, etc.).

  6. We hunt bears only to satisfy barbaric needs.

  7. We’re more important than bears. We come first.

  8. 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 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.

Roberta December 29, 2011 at 04:56 PM
I believe that education and strict enforcement, with heavy financial penalties, of "no feeding" rules (applied to residential, business, institutional and restaurant garbage , bird feeding, failure to protect feed & livestock, AND prohibiting hunters from baiting bears so they will be easy to pick off when hunting season starts!) would substantially reduce the likelihood of problem encounters. We haven't even scratched the surface in either of those areas. I believe that the Bear Hunt is strictly to make the hunters happy, an opportunity to take home a trophy. If population control becomes necessary, which I don't belive it is, or if individual bears present a problem, hunting is an unacceptable, ineffective, inhumane and barbaric response. For what? Bragging rights? Cloaking a bear hunt in the cloth of public service is, I believe, a dishonest sham.
Susan Kehoe December 29, 2011 at 06:42 PM
To the hunter who killed "Sassy". This video shows her alive: a loving mother to her cubs, who never bothered anyone and would run away from any unknown noise she heard. She had a split in one ear and a limp in her hind quarters. I wonder how far she was able to run from you before you shot her. The terror she must have felt. Each time you look at her head most likely mounted on your wall, remember this video of a loving mother bear with her cub. And everytime you look at the rug you probably made out of her fur, think of the warmth it would have given her cubs in the winter. And you zapped the life right out of her. Love is emotion. If more people had it, the world would be a much better place. I believe in Karma. What you put out into the universe, you will get back tenfold. To view video, go to YouTube: bear3360, NJ Black Bear Hunt: Meet "Sassy", the mother bear killed 12/8/11. Sassy, you are gone, but not forgotten. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kvZFrTkmEM0
herb Skovronek December 29, 2011 at 09:27 PM
No state with bear (or deer) hunting has ever achieved the "goal" of population stability--they just keep hunting. That's the real goal of the NJDEP--a political rollover to hunting/gun interests. NJDEP biological "science" has never been subjected to honest peer review. Dr. Tavss' unbiased review demonstrated complaint records were bogus. DEP AND Gov. Christie refused to review these data-WHY? Other tools, including trash management, anti-feeding enforcement, birth control (if needed), discretionary feeding to reduce nuisance bear visits have never been tested by the state. Why not? Politics and profit.
Richard Wolfert December 31, 2011 at 09:23 PM
MAKE A DIFFERENCE: There have been many votes here and a few written responses. One person even emailed me directly as they weren't able to log on here. Since emotions run high regarding this issue (as with so many others that we'll get into in the coming year), the only recommendation I can make is to become active to support your view. You don't have to be an 'activist', just be active at times. Don't be a perennial spectator. The big problem is that only a few people decide such issues, and the majority stay on the sidelines and just watch…and grumble. That there are 46 votes (to date, 12/31) is an indication that many of you have strong opinions. Back them up with some action. If you were to ask people about joining a nature, science or environmentally-related organization, most would say they just can't (for a variety of reasons). But given the chance to express an opinion, you do, pointing to a great deal of pent-up emotion. Set an example for children, too. Don't let apathy dissipate your feelings. Take a stand and do something positive. I'm not advocating a position here…just involvement. The more who understand the issues, the better final decisions will be. If there is one resolution you can keep for 2012, perhaps you will consider becoming more involved! Do something! It will make a difference. Rich --


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