If this were a battle of wits the bear would win. On the issue of controlling the black bear population in the Garden State, Phil Murphy is an abject failure.

Now I’ve written on this issue before. This isn’t a matter of opinion. This is a matter of scientific fact and for a guy who claimed he followed the science on the pandemic, he refuses to follow the wildlife science and could really use a bloodhound.

Bear after being freed from a chicken feeder in Sussex County 5/9/22
Bear after being freed from a chicken feeder in Sussex County 5/9/22 (NJ DOT)

On a call-in show this week on WBGO, Gov. Murphy admitted there’s a bear problem. At least that was something.

“There have been one too many sightings over the past number of months for my taste so we’ve spent a lot of time, especially with the Department of Environmental Protection, trying to figure out how we can in a non-lethal way, be better at this and more aggressive at this.”

From Jan. 1 to Aug. 21 of this year there were 347 bear sightings. That’s 98% more than last year’s same period. It doubled. Damage and nuisance reports over the same year-to-year comparison? Even worse. From 398 to 1,095. Almost tripled.


Because he stopped the New Jersey bear hunt. His own wildlife management experts have told him that non-lethal means to control the bear population don’t work well. He won’t listen.

Here he’s admitting the problem is growing. Admitted he’s concerned. And then orders his wildlife management team to reconsider non-lethal means.

Phil Murphy
AP Photo/Seth Wenig

It’s already been looked at. We have an example right before our eyes of the definition of insanity being doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.

His public refusal to bring back the bear hunt drew reaction Wednesday including this from Senate minority leader Steve Oroho.

“The bear population in New Jersey is exploding, which has resulted in more frequent and dangerous interactions in our communities and backyards. Unfortunately, non-lethal methods for managing the bear population such as trap and transfer are expensive, ineffective, and merely shift the problem somewhere else temporarily. Governor Murphy should listen to the professionals at the New Jersey Fish and Game Council who recommended an ’emergency’ hunt last year but were ignored.”

Oroho is right. Murphy is wrong. I’m getting tired of saying it. The bear population in New Jersey will continue to spiral out of control if we do not return to a bear hunt. Period. Full stop.

Opinions expressed in the post above are those of New Jersey 101.5 talk show host Jeff Deminski only.

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