Oroho, Space & Wirths: End of Bear Hunt Will Lead to Overpopulation and Public Safety Concerns
Senator Steve Oroho and Assemblymen Parker Space and Hal Wirths (all R-Sussex, Warren, Morris) criticized Gov. Phil Murphy’s announcement to stop all bear hunts in New Jersey in 2021, stating that it is a reckless play that increases the likelihood of hazardous human encounters with the animals.
“Throughout this pandemic, Governor Murphy has preached about following the science, yet in this instance he is blindly obeying his version of political science while potentially jeopardizing the public safety of New Jerseyans,” said Oroho. “A Rutgers student was mauled to death by a black bear and an elderly man was recently attached in his garage, leaving him with more than 30 stitches.”
“We don’t want to go back to not managing the bear population properly,” added Oroho, a Co-Chairman of the NJ Angling, Hunting and Conservation Caucus. “My wife recently saw nine different bears on the same road less than a mile from my house between Franklin and Sparta. However, it is ironic that when a bear is sighted in urban settings, schools get locked down and multiple police departments respond to tranquilize the bear before relocating it. If safety isn’t an issue what’s the reason for concern?”
Oroho said that when Gov. Jon Corzine canceled the hunt in 2006, adults and children were afraid to go outside because the bear population was not adequately controlled, and sightings in neighborhoods occurred multiple times daily.
“This is a self-serving attempt to placate extremists while increasing the likelihood of a dangerous encounter with a bear,” said Space, a member of the Assembly Agriculture Committee and a Co-Chairman of the NJ Angling, Hunting and Conservation Caucus. “Once again, Murphy is more concerned about politics. Hunts effectively controlled the bear population since 2010, and reports of nuisance and damage were cut in half during that time.”
There are 3,500 black bears in northern New Jersey, according to estimates. 315 bears were taken in last year’s hunt, bringing the total to 3,940 since hunting was resumed eight years ago.
“Already the most densely populated state, New Jersey also has the densest bear population in North America,” said Wirths, a member of the NJ Angling, Hunting and Conservation Caucus. “There are too many bears for the environment to support, so they wander out of the woods and into neighborhoods in search of food and shelter. There is nothing humane about bears starving in the wild. It is a recipe for disaster that can be mitigated with responsible hunting controls.”
“Legislators from District 24 successfully helped lead the ‘resistance’ to ending the bear hunt more than a decade ago,” Wirths added. “Steve, Parker, and I are prepared to do so again.”