To hunt a bear or not to hunt a bear
The bear hunt is on. Nearly 100 bears have been killed by hunters at the end of the third day of the annual New Jersey bear hunt. The total for this season will likely be closer to 400 and if extended could top 500 as it did last year. The question is whether NJ needs the bear hunt at all.
What's the economic benefit to the hunt? Do hunters travel from far and wide using services across the garden state while they search for their prize? Do we have a bear overcrowding situation requiring us to reduce the population in order to protect life and property?
It seems that with the growing protests and the incoming Governor pledging to end the hunt, the proponents may not have a strong position from which to advocate it's continuance. When is the last time you swerved around a bear to avoid a collision? When is the last time a bear totaled a car and severely injured a driver? From what I've read, the death of a Rutgers student in 2014 was the first time a person has been killed by a bear since the Civil War in New Jersey.
The truth is, bears are not really a huge problem in our state. Secure your trash can lids, make sure you don't leave food out on the deck and don't have wildlife attracting feeders if you live in bear country. It's possible through a few simple actions to avoid bears altogether.
Not the same with deer. Collisions, damage, even death have been the result of a huge population of deer across the country and in our home state.
Yes, there's an extended deer hunting season, yes hunters kill thousands every year. But there are still thousands of collisions causing damage, injury and in some cases death. Seems to me we need to not worry all that much about the bear hunt. On or off, it's not having an impact on most peoples daily lives. Deer are. Looking at the averages, there are dozens of collisions a day with deer and many more near misses. It's one of the biggest obstacles once you successfully avoid the many potholes that remain unfixed.
So for my political capital, I'd trade the bear hunt for a dramatic increase in deer harvesting any day. We need to expand the territory that hunters can look and kill deer and we need to create incentives for out of state hunters to join in the harvest. Perhaps a doubling of the kill numbers would begin to put a dent in the population and maybe make our roadways just a bit safer.
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