510 NJ bears killed during 2015 hunt, officials say
Following a four-day extension, New Jersey's annual black bear hunt ended Saturday night with hunters harvesting a total of 510 bruins over the course of 10 days.
The initial phase of the hunt began on Dec. 7 and ended on Dec. 12. Officials from the NJ Department of Environmental Protection's Division of Fish and Wildlife extended the hunt by four days, however, since the number of bruins harvested during the first week feel short of the state's goals.
From Dec. 7-12, a total of 472 bears were harvested in northern New Jersey, with the highest totals on the first two days of the hunt. Carole Stanko, the acting chief for the Bureau of Wildlife Management, told NJ 101.5 earlier this month that if New Jersey's bear population – estimated to be 3,500 – wasn’t cut by 20 percent by the end of the first phase of the hunt, the culling could continue for a set period of time.
During the second phase, from Dec. 16-19, an additional 38 bears were killed, bringing the total to 510.
Most of the bruins killed by hunters this year - 312 - were in Sussex County. Here's a breakdown of how many bears were killed in each county where the 2015 hunt took place:
- Sussex County: 312
- Warren County: 94
- Passaic County: 35
- Morris County: 58
- Bergen County: 2
- Hunterdon County: 9
- Somerset County: 0
- Mercer County: 0
According to the NJDEP press release, northwestern New Jersey “has one of the nation’s densest populations of black bears, a situation that is forcing bears to expand territory into more populated areas of the state.”
Thanks to spring like weather and a larger bear population this year’s bear hunt had the most kills since at least 2012.
Toniann Antonelli is the digital managing editor at NJ 101.5. Reach her at email@example.com, or on Twitter @ToniRadio1015.