After bears became something more than lovable pick-i-nick basket thieves, the Garden State decided to create a bear hunting season. After a little bit of what the Brits call argy-bargy from the anti-hunting crowd, New Jersey hunters filled out the appropriate paperwork, paid for a license and set out in search of black bears. According to the NJDEP Division of Fish and Wildlife (even they don’t use the full name), “the hunting season resulted in a total legal harvest of 592 black bears.” Harvested as in shot dead. Johnny NJDEP’s press release was quick to frame the killing in light of its conservation efforts. And rightly so. Still, it does make for some unintentionally funny (black bear, black humor) reading . . .
Harvested bears included those known to have been causing damage and nuisance. Of the 118 tagged bears harvested, twenty-four (24), or 20%, were known nuisance bears or bears tagged at nuisance sites, including two which had previously denned under residents’ decks. The tag returns of harvested bears suggest that 20% of the harvest was nuisance bears.
Bears were harvested in 5 of the 7 counties open to black bear hunting. Sussex County led the harvest with a total of 338 bears, followed by 112 bears in Warren County, 59 bears in Passaic County, 82 bears in Morris County, and 1 bear in Bergen County. These results were expected by Division biologists, based on land area and bear density.
Hunters recorded bear harvests in 46 of the 105 municipalities open to black bear hunting, with West Milford Township, Passaic County, tallying the highest with 54 bears taken, followed by Vernon Township (50) and Walpack Township (50), both in Sussex County. Of the bears harvested, 243 (41%) were taken on private property, 233 (39%) on state property, 92 (16%) on federal property and 24 (4%) on county or municipal land.
More good news: no hunting accidents during the six-day season. So, to quote the Teletubbies, again, again! The NJDEP have scheduled the 2011 black bear hunting season to coincide with the six-day Firearm Deer Season, December 5-10.