🐻 The black bear will happen in two parts in October

🐻 The Sierra Club NJ Chapter calls the hunt 'inhumane'

🐻 Gov. Phil Murphy reluctantly backtracked  in 2022 on his promise to end the hunt


The black bear hunt will return this fall and continue through at least 2028 despite the objections of environmentalists and animal rights organizations

The New Jersey Fish and Game Council on Wednesday gave formal approval to amendments to the State Game Code and the Comprehensive Black Bear Management Policy. Once approval is received from Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Shawn LaTourette they will be filed with the Office of Administrative Law on Sept. 8 for publication in the Oct. 2 New Jersey Register, at which time it will be formally adopted.

A Murphy campaign promise

The return of the hunt represents a failed campaign promise by Gov. Phil Murphy who vowed to end the hunt. He reluctantly brought it back in 2022 because of an increase in bear sightings and encounters with humans. A last-minute effort to block the hunt failed in court.

New bear hunt policies adopted

Council chairman Frank Virgilio said during the virtual meeting that over 8,000 public comments were received for and against the hunt, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer's coverage of the meeting.

The council also adopted new policies prohibiting the harvest of cubs less than 75 pounds live weight, the harvest of adult bears accompanying cubs less than 75 pounds live weight, and hunting of bears within 300 feet of a baited area.

Black bear in New Jersey
Black bear in New Jersey (NJ DEP)

Hunt is 'Inhumane,' advocates say

One of the groups opposed to the hunt is the Sierra Club's New Jersey Chapter, which called the hunt "inhumane" and was "outraged" by the vote, according to a statement.

“Today’s decision to extend the black bear hunt in New Jersey is a tragic example of ineffective wildlife management that directly defies the people’s wishes. New Jerseyans do not want this hunt," Director Anjuli Ramos-Busot said.

When is the next bear hunt in NJ?

The hunt will take place in all or parts of Bergen, Hunterdon, Mercer, Morris, Passaic, Somerset and Sussex counties in two parts.

The first part will be Oct. 9 through Oct. 14 and the second part Dec. 4 through Dec. 9. There's an option for an extension if objectives of the hunt for population and conservation management are not met. In the past the first part of the hunt was for bows and the second part for rifles.

114 bears were harvested during the 2022 hunt, according to the NJ DEP. 410 were killed in the 2020 hunt and  315 in 2019. There was no hunt in 2021.

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