Here’s the score on the New Jersey bear hunt this year:
Black bear population: approx. 3,400 statewide
Number killed on the first day of the hunt, December 5th: 200
Total number killed during the weeklong hunt: 464
Permits issued to kill bears: 7,800
The state Department of Environmental Protection’s Division of Fish and Wildlife says the goal is to stabilize and reduce the bear population to minimize conflicts and bear/human interactions.
Number of instances of human/bear “interfaces”: 3,000
Number of times a bear entered a human home: 46
Number of humans reported killed by bears in New Jersey: 0
Number of times a human entered a bear home: Millions
Number of bears reported killed by humans: Millions
From Angie Metler, spokesperson for the Bear Education and Resource Group:
“A bear hunt doesn’t solve nuisance complaints, a bear hunt doesn’t protect property, a bear hunt doesn’t protect public safety and the bear hunt will not reduce the population.”
Among those arrested while protesting the bear hunt was Prof. Bill Crain of City College of New York. He writes:
New Jersey’s black bear hunts painfully illustrate the extent to which government can sanction cruelty toward other species. The hunts are basically massacres of highly intelligent and sensitive animals.
The bears intend us no harm; no bear has ever killed a human in New Jersey. But in the three previous hunts — in 2003, 2005 and 2010 — New Jersey sanctioned the killing of more than 1,200 bears. This number includes many mothers and cubs. Other bears, not included in the official counts, were wounded and left to die slow deaths in the woods. Many orphaned cubs, missing their mothers to guide them, probably died as well. Now all this is happening again this year. The bears have done nothing to deserve this.
Facts about black bears
From bear expert Dr. Lynn Rogers:
Native people thought of them as healers. Environmentalists recognize them as an integral part of a healthy eco-system. Many in Northern New Jersey see them as the majestic symbol of the New Jersey Highlands. We see them as a timid—and much maligned creature.
And as with many things, the more we understand, the less we fear. So here are some facts about black bears:
Black bears are flight animals.When given a choice between fighting or fleeing, they flee – typically up the nearest tree until danger passes.
Mother black bears do not defend their cubs.Defending cubs is a grizzly bear trait.
Bear cubs stay with their mother until they are two years old.
Black bears sometimes exhibit “bluff behavior.”When threatened, they may slap the ground or charge a short distance before fleeing. This is done in an attempt to frighten off another bear or human that has come too close. When frightened, bears may also snort or clack their mouths.
Black bears are among North America’s slowest reproducing land mammals. New Jersey’s bear population was all but wiped out by hunting in the 1970’s. Their population has only recently recovered.
What do you say: Let us know what you think about the bear hunt, either in a comment or on Facebook.
What you can do: Work with the Bear Group in New Jersey to bring an end to the hunt.