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For the second time in less than two months, New Jersey is about to hold another black bear hunt.

This past October, 562 bears were killed by New Jersey hunters, but a new six-day, firearms-only hunt begins on Monday.

State Sen. Ray Lesniak, D-Union, is leading the charge against the hunt.

He is sponsoring Pedals' Law, a measure that would ban any further bear hunts in New Jersey for five years.

Pedals, the beloved injured bear that was killed during the October hunt in New Jersey, rose to fame because he walked upright on his hind legs.

“We don’t need this bear hunt, and actually it increases possibilities of interaction with humans by bear baiting. Bears become acclimated to human foods, they go into neighborhoods where people leave their trash outside, not in secure containers,” said Lesniak.

He stressed there are non-lethal ways to better control the bear population.

“We can keep them in their natural habitat and let them co-exist with human beings on the face of the earth,” he said.

Ray Szpond, president of the NJ State Federation of Sportsmen's Clubs, believes the hunt is necessary.

“The only way we can effectively control the bear population in New Jersey is through legalized hunting,” he said.

“Birth control is not an option. Trap and transfer is not an option," Szpond said. "The average sow has a litter of three cubs per year and the only way to effectively manage the population is through a controlled hunt.”

John Rogalo, the federation's chairman, says many more bears are born every year than are killed in the hunts.

But Lesniak, like many animal advocates, is convinced a hunt only gives "some hunters a chance to shoot a helpless animal" and has sent a letter to the state Division of Fish and Wildlife asking them to cancel the hunt.

“It’s totally unnecessary. It’s not needed to protect human beings in any way, shape or form. Stop the bear hunt. Let’s do the right thing,” he said.

He is circulating an online petition to stop the bear hunt at

“We have almost 10,000 signatures now. I will use the petition to get in contact with our legislators to pass my legislation,” said Lesniak.

According to the Division of Fish and Wildlife, this latest hunt will take place in five hunting zones that encompass all or parts of Hunterdon, Passaic, Morris, Somerset, Mercer, Sussex and Warren counties, and a small portion of Bergen County.

The DEP advisory on the black bear hunt states:

It is anticipated that the scheduled six-day hunt for Segment B (starting Monday) will be closed early due to a successful bow/muzzleloader rifle season (Segment A) in October, during which a total of 562 bears were harvested. Of these, 23.4 percent were previously tagged bears.

The second segment will be suspended once the cumulative harvest rate of tagged bears for both segments reaches 30 percent. The segment closure will take effect 24 hours after the legal closing time on the day the Division of Fish and Wildlife has determined that the 30 percent harvest rate has been achieved. The announcement of the impending closure will be made by way of a news release and posting on the Division of Fish and Wildlife's website.

Contact reporter David Matthau at

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