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 shortly after sunset on Saturday, December 14, running concurrently with the six-day firearm deer hunting season.
The first bear taken was a 279-pound adult male in Andover Township, Sussex County, by Christopher Olivio of Byram. The second was a 115-pound male cub taken in Sparta Township by Daniel Braico of Lyndhurst.
While black bears have been reported in all 21 counties, by far the densest population is in a 1,000-square-mile portion of the state north of Route 78 and west of Route 287. Hunting zones are located in Hunterdon, Morris, Passaic, Somerset, Sussex and Warren counties, plus a very small area of western Bergen County.
DEP biologists predict a harvest in this year’s hunt similar to 2012, when 287 bears were taken.
“We anticipate a safe and professionally managed black bear hunt, which is just one component of DEP’s comprehensive bear management efforts,” said Commissioner Bob Martin. “The overall goal is to reduce the number of bears to a more manageable number, while improving public safety by reducing bear encounters with people.”
In addition to hunting, the state’s comprehensive policy includes a common sense mix of bear management tools, including public education, research, bear-habitat analysis and protection and non-lethal bear management techniques, and a bear feeding ban, all geared towards reducing bear-human encounters.
The Division of Fish and Wildlife has partnered with Untamed Science to offer New Jersey teachers and students black bear education materials via on a new bear education website: http://www.njfishandwildlife.com/bearfacts_curriculum.htm
North Jersey has a robust black bear population, with scientifically calculated and conservative estimates showing some 2,500 to 2,800 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.
The DEP’s comprehensive approach, established in 2010 by the state’s Fish and Game Council, show a reduction in the estimated number of black bears living in North Jersey and a continuing decline in bear-human incidents.
Reported black bear sightings in North Jersey this year are down 21 percent, damage and nuisance complaints are down 20 percent, and Category One calls (dangerous bear incidents) are down by 3 percent, to slightly more than 100, through the end of October, compared to the same period in 2012. That follows marked declines in 2012 when reported bear sightings dropped 34 percent, damage and nuisance complaints declined 26 percent, and Category One calls fell off by 43 percent.
Nearly 7,000 hunters have obtained bear hunting permits for the upcoming New Jersey hunt, with a maximum of 10,000 permits to be allocated.
For information on New Jersey’s 2013 black bear hunt, including bear permit availability, and information on the 2010, 2011 and 2012 bear harvest results, visit: http://www.state.nj.us/dep/fgw/bearseason_info.htm.
To more information on bears in New Jersey, including links to important statistics, tips on reducing conflicts with bears, visit: http://www.state.nj.us/dep/fgw/bearfacts.htm.
Logo courtesy New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection