The Division of Fish & Wildlife in New Jersey’s Department of Environmental Protection brought back the black bear hunt on a limited basis in 2003 to control the state’s growing number of bear sightings. But according to Susan Russell of the Animal Protection League of New Jersey and the Bear Education and Resource Group, the hunt is a bait and shoot.
Russell says baiting lures the bears from the wild into communities, often using carcasses, vegetables, and honey, according to lehighvalleylive.com. Baiting is not allowed in National Wildlife Refuges and the Delaware Water Gap National Recreational Area, according to the DEP.
NJ.com reported that more than 5,300 black bear hunting permits had been granted for 2012. Bear hunting season runs from Dec. 3 through 8. DEP figures said 469 bears were killed during the 2011 hunt.
New Jersey Sierra Club director Jeff Tittel says the bear hunt is unwarranted. "It is a trophy hunt, and has nothing to do with managing the bear population,” he said, according to NorthJersey.com. “It is all about sport."
The Sierra Club has proposed increased public education and better ways to handle garbage disposal as methods of controlling the bear population. Bears often roam the residential areas just foraging through garbage cans.
According to philly.com, all 21 counties in New Jersey have had bear sightings in the past ten years. American black bears are native to New Jersey. Areas included in the hunt are Warren County, and parts of Hunterdon. Sussex, Somerset, Passaic and Bergen Counties.
A group known as savenjbears.com has put up a Facebook page in memory of “Samantha,” who lived 31 years. The page says Samantha was the Bear Education and Reource Group’s mascot between 1995 and 2000, and her face was seen on the covers of newsletters, lawn signs, and advertisements.
The Bear Education and Resource Group will be having protests on Dec. 3 and 8 at 10 a.m. at the Whittingham Wildlife Management Area on148 Fredon-Springdale Road in Fredon Township, Sussex County.