For a governor who claimed throughout the pandemic he was always following science and data, that modus operandi has not been used to manage our black bear population. From the beginning Phil Murphy has ignored the science and his own wildlife experts when they told him non-lethal means and birth control will fail to control the bear population from exploding.

Through executive order he took away all state-owned land from hunters during bear season. It has had an impact.

According to an article on earlier this year our bear population doubled in the past two years. Nuisance incidents and sightings more than doubled from 2019 through 2020.


According to DEP bear sightings went from 169 to 349 in one year.

Damage and nuisance incidents went from 122 to 268 in one year.

That’s what Murphy gets for not listening to his own people.

Now things have gotten really interesting. There will be no bear hunt this year and he did it in the cheesiest way possible. According to a State Supreme Court ruling in 2007 a bear hunt can happen only when there is a bear management policy in place. He used this to do a dirty stall tactic to kill the bear hunt.

A group of appointed sportsmen and farmers, the NJ Fish and Game Council, did their job and came up with a bear management plan and submitted it to Shaun La Tourette back in March. He’s the commissioner of the DEP.

All these months later nothing was done with it. It was never approved. Clearly a purposeful stall tactic to run out the clock so that the bear hunt would automatically die. But it also leaves New Jersey with literally no plan to control the bear population.

I’m not the only one who finds this outrageous. According to Republican gubernatorial candidate Jack Ciattarelli says, “Once again, Phil Murphy opts for extreme ideology and hyper partisanship over science and common sense. Sadly, this time it’s putting people’s safety, property, and livelihood at risk,”

He’s right of course. Bears are in all 21 counties. Left with no hunt their population is destined to double again. Then quadruple. Soon there will be bears fighting for sustaining territory, driving themselves more into populated areas, and they’ll lose all fear of humans which has already begun.

This was an irresponsible move on the part of a governor more interested in burnishing his progressive credentials than keeping people and property safe.

You know who else isn’t a fan? Cody McLaughlin. Cody is a spokesperson for the NJ Outdoor Alliance.

“We’ve said for years now that the governor figuratively had no plan to manage bears in New Jersey. Now he LITERALLY has no plan to manage bears in New Jersey,” McLaughlin told “It’s a foolish stunt when the densest population of black bears on the continent is involved, and the NJOA and our coalition of sportsmen look forward to having a new governor come November.”

I believe many of us are looking forward to that.

The post above reflects the thoughts and observations of New Jersey 101.5 talk show host Jeff Deminski. Any opinions expressed are Jeff Deminski's own.

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