The Department of Environmental Protection today announced the state’s black bear hunting season opened this morning just prior to sunrise and will continue through sunset on Saturday, December 8. The season runs concurrently with the six-day firearm deer hunting season.
A morning fog impeded visibility in the early morning hours. But after it lifted, the first bear, a 165-pound male, was taken in Jefferson Township, Morris County by Edwin Mackin, of Boonton. The second was a 124-pound male bear taken in Sparta, Sussex County by Stanley Zeveney of Stillwater.
DEP biologists predict a harvest in this year’s hunt similar to 2011, when 469 bears were harvested.
“We anticipate a safe and professionally managed black bear hunt, which is just one component of our Comprehensive Black Bear Management Policy (CBBMP),” said Commissioner Bob Martin. “The overall goal is to reduce the number of bears, especially in northern New Jersey, to a more manageable number, while improving public safety by reducing bear encounters with people. It is our responsibility to properly manage the black bear population.”
The initial results of the five-year CBBMP, which was established in 2010 by the state’s Fish and Game Council, shows a slight reduction in the estimated number of black bears living in “bear country” in northern New Jersey and a substantial decline in bear-human incidents.
Reported bear sightings this year are down 34 percent, black bear damage and nuisance complaints are down 26 percent, and Category One calls (dangerous bear incidents) are down 43 percent through the end of October, compared to the same time period in 2011.
“The early results of this coordinated, statewide plan are promising,” said Commissioner Martin. “But we must stay the course on our comprehensive policy to further reduce bear and human encounters and property damage, while easing public concerns.”
In addition to hunting, the CBBMP includes public education, research, bear-habitat analysis and protection and non-lethal bear management techniques.
Northern New Jersey has a robust bear population, with scientifically calculated and conservative estimates showing some 2,800 to 3,000 black bears living in the hunting area north of Route 78 and west of Route 287. That is down from an estimated 3,400 bears in 2010.
Bear hunting is taking place this week in portions of a 1,000-square-mile area north of Route 78 and West of Route 287.
Information on the numbers of bears harvested will be posted on line at http://www.nj.gov/dep/fgw/bearseason_info.htm on Monday evening, as soon as possible after the 7 p.m. closing of the five check stations. On subsequent days, postings will occur by 8 a.m. the next morning.
For information on the 2012 black bear hunt and information on the 2010 and 2011 bear harvest results, visit: http://www.state.nj.us/dep/fgw/bearseason_info.htm
To review the State’s Comprehensive Black Bear Management Policy, visit: http://www.state.nj.us/dep/fgw/bearpolicy10.htm
For more information on New Jersey’s black bears visit: http://www.state.nj.us/dep/fgw/bearfacts.htm
For specific tips on avoiding conflicts with bears visit: http://www.njfishandwildlife.com/bearfacts_avoid.htm
Image courtesy New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection