The first bear hunt in New Jersey in 33 years began yesterday. Those who applied for and obtained the special licenses for the six-day hunt faced a few problems. First, the snowstorm over the weekend discouraged some hunters from venturing into the woods and encouraged the bears to stay in their dens. Second, the amount of land available for the hunt was reduced when, on Friday, in connection with a lawsuit filed by environmentalists, a federal judge issued a temporary restraining order prohibiting hunting on the 67,000 acre Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area. Finally, protestors opposed to the hunt (at least one of whom wore a bear mask) appeared in various places to urge that the hunt be stopped.
Nevertheless, despite these obstacles, by the end of the day the hunters killed 61 bears, the largest one weighing in at 498 pounds.
As I have said before, bear hunting is not my cup of tea, but there seems to be no practical alternative to the growing bear population and the increasing number of bear-human encounters.
The state’s goal is to reduce the bear population by approximately 500.