Gov. Murphy Tries to Be “Pander Bear” on Bear Hunt
New Jersey’s black bear hunt for 2019 will start on October 14-16th for Segment A, Archery Only. Last year, 225 bears were harvested, of those 17 were tagged. In 2017, 409 bears were harvested, of those 22 were tagged, in 2016, 636 were harvested and 51 tagged, in 2015, 510 bears were harvested and 24 tagged. Despite the ban on hunting bears on state lands, hunting has been conducted on private land. The New Jersey Sierra Club believes that without an actual bear management plan that deals with protection of habitats, garbage, and educating people in bear country, the hunt is meaningless. The bear hunt has killed too many bears and is no longer sustainable.
“Governor Murphy said when he ran for office that he does not support the bear hunt and said it again on the radio last week. However, he is not doing anything to stop it. He says he is against the hunt but is allowing it to happen. Murphy is basically a “pander bear” because he says one thing but lets the hunt to continue. The unneeded and unnecessary private bear hunt in New Jersey will start next week. Enough is enough. There is no justification for a hunt, and it is becoming unsustainable, the number of bears are down, sightings are down, and so are the nuisance cases. Since 2010, there have been 3,791 bears that have been killed but we think there are many more bears that have been killed,” said Jeff Tittel, Director of the New Jersey Sierra Club. “Governor Murphy has the authority to stop the hunt and other Governors have done it, but Murphy has chosen not to. If Murphy is so concerned about the bears, then why isn’t he putting together a non-lethal bear management plan instead of letting another hunt begin. The Governor says he opposes the hunt but hasn’t stopped it, he can’t have it both ways. His position is UN-bearable.”
According to the NJ Division of Fish and Wildlife’s Bear Activity Report, bear sightings and nuisance numbers have dropped in 2019 compared to 2018. There was a 12.5% drop in Damage & Nuisance cases. From January 1 through September 21st of 2019 there were 139 sightings and 103 nuisance cases. In 2018, there were 180 sightings and 703 damage and nuisance cases. These numbers are much lower compared to reports from 2010 where there were 970 sightings and 2,065 damage and nuisance cases, where 742 were nuisance cases.
“The bear hunt was initiated initially to get rid of aggressive and nuisance bears and the numbers show that they have dropped by about 80% times since 2010. There may not be many bears left. More wounded bears, more hikers injured in the bow and arrow hunt. more hunting, we need a real management plan, one that includes strong education and uses warning signs in the region, education materials at trail heads, enforcing not feeding bears, and garbage management,” said Tittel. “These will do a lot more in managing the bear population than having an unnecessary hunt. If bears start seeing houses as sources of food, we will see more bear human conflict and more problems. Bears will change from a nuisance bear to an aggressive bear and will be put down. This will justify the hunt.”
This hunt is not sustainable.
Governor Murphy’s Executive Order bans bear hunting on all state lands, about 700,000 acres. However, this leaves just as much land in county parklands, private lands, water company lands, non-profit lands, and municipal lands where bears can still be hunted on. Last year’s hunt on private land killed 225 bears. In 2018, the state appeals court rejected a motion filed by New Jersey Outdoor Alliance and other hunting groups challenging Murphy’s order that closes state lands for bear hunting.
“Murphy is letting the hunt precede on private land, which means the hunt is still going on.Even though the bear hunt is prohibited on state land, bears can still be killed on private land. Parklands, private lands, water company lands, non-profit lands, and municipal lands are areas bears can still be hunted on. Last year’s private hunt killed 225 bears. If Murphy can win in court on blocking the hunt on state lands, then he can win in court on blocking the hunt on all lands. Murphy has the authority to block the hunt just like Whitman, McGreevey, and Corzine did and yet he is still not doing anything to stop it,” said Tittel.
New Jersey used to spend more than $2 million a year on bear management education, that money has been reduced by 90%. Ten years ago, New Jersey had bear wardens whose jobs were to manage bears and educate the public. That program has been eliminated. Now only Conservation Officers do that work and there are 40% less of them then there was ten years ago. They not only have to deal with bears, but other species, poachers, and everything else.
“Governor says he does not support the bear hunt but is letting another private hunt continue. He cannot play both sides, Murphy needs to end the hunt. The NJDEP should be focusing on implementing a thorough and effective bear management plan rather than killing the same number of bears as last year. Without a real management plan, bears will change from a nuisance bear to an aggressive bear and will be put down. The decision to block the hunt on state land is just a distraction. Murphy is trying divert the public while still having a hunt,”said Jeff Tittel, Director of the New Jersey Sierra Club. “The Murphy Administration committed to stopping the bear hunt and instead having a real management plan and we will hold them to that commitment!”