264 black bears killed in first day of NJ’s politically-approved hunt

New Jersey hunters rushed out to kill black bears yesterday in the first hunt since 2005. The new hunt was approved by political appointees of right-wing governor and likely presidential candidate Chris Christie. Hunters killed 264 bears on the first of six days of hunting.

Protesters mocked the hunters and the The Star-Ledger shot some pretty strong footage of both groups and a lot of dead, gutted bears. Every single hunter or hunting promoter from fish and game on the video has outrageous hair. One hunter (gray beard, long gray hair) complains bears destroying crops without even eating the corn. So are we to presume he’ll be eating bear steak for the next three months?

David Chanda, director of the state Division of Fish and Wildlife, told The Star-Ledger that only about 5-7% of bear hunters are successful. That would mean 375 to 700 dead bears. The department issued 7,800 permits for the state’s estimated 3,400 bears.

The Bear Group notes that the Fish and Game Commission hasn’t bothered to enforce rules about feeding bears, intentionally or not, and that the hunts don’t reduce complaints.  The Bear Group and the Animal Protection League of New Jersey filed a suit to stop the hunt, saying the commission didn’t even bother to listen to public comments, which ran three to one against the hunt.

When the state had a Democratic governor, they at least tried non-lethal control. This is just another case of political pro-hunting policy masquerading as public environmental policy. By law New Jersey’s Fish and Game Council has 3 farmers, 6 hunters and 2 environmentalists. That doesn’t come close to representing the make-up of New Jersey, where 8% of the population hunts and 23% likes to watch wildlife. Wildlife watchers outspend hunters more than four to one.

Where to go see wildlife in the northeast

Where to see bear

PARTICIPANTS Fishing % Hunting % Wildlife Watching %
NJ 534,000 8 86,000 1 1,537,000 23
NJ $746,274,000 $137,149,000 $631,746,000

This law established the composition of the Council as follows: three members of council shall be farmers, recommended to the Governor for appointment by the agricultural convention; six members shall be sportsmen, recommended to the Governor for appointment by the New Jersey State Federation of Sportsmen’s Clubs; and two members shall be commercial fishermen…. With the creation of the Marine Fisheries Council in 1979, the commercial fishing representatives were replaced on the Fish and Game Council with the Chairman of the Endangered and Nongame Species Advisory Committee and a public member “knowledgeable in land use management and soil conservation practices.

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