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State of New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection
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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 8, 2014

Contact: Lawrence Ragonese (609) 292-2994
Lawrence Hajna (609) 984-1795
Bob Considine (609) 984-1795

BLACK BEAR HUNTING SEASON UNDER WAY IN NORTHERN NEW JERSEY

(14/P132) TRENTON – The Department of Environmental Protection today announced that the state’s annual black bear hunting season opened today just prior to sunrise and will continue until shortly after sunset on Saturday, December 13,  running concurrently with the state’s annual six-day firearm deer hunting season.

The first bear taken was a 135-pound adult female taken in Vernon Township, Sussex County, by Marc Beardslee of Vernon. The second was a 346-pound adult male taken in Andover Township, Sussex County by Mike Donahue of Stanhope, Sussex County.

While black bears have been reported in all 21 counties, the densest population by far is in a 1,000-square-mile portion of the state north of Route 78 and west of Route 287. Hunting zones are located in parts of Hunterdon, Morris, Passaic, Somerset, Sussex and Warren counties, plus a small area of western Bergen County.

DEP biologists predict a harvest in this year’s hunt likely will be similar to 2013, when 251bears were taken. Weather could play a factor in those numbers.

“We anticipate a very safe and professionally managed black bear hunt, which is just one component of the New Jersey’s Comprehensive Black Bear Management Policy,” said DEP Commissioner Bob Martin. “The state’s overall goal is to reduce the number of bears to a more manageable number, while improving public safety by reducing bear encounters with people.”

In addition to hunting, the state’s comprehensive policy includes a common sense mix of bear management tools, including public education, research, bear-habitat analysis and protection and non-lethal bear management techniques, and a bear feeding ban, all geared towards reducing bear-human encounters.

The DEP’s comprehensive approach, which was formally established in 2010 by the state’s Fish and Game Council, has been gradually reducing the estimated number of black bears living in North Jersey, which has a robust black bear population. Scientifically calculated and conservative estimates show approximately 2,200 to 2,500 black bears living in the hunting area north of Route 78 and west of Route 287. That is down from an estimated 3,400 bears in 2010.

In concert with university scientists, further work will be done next year by the DEP’s Division of Fish & Wildlife biologists to reassess the black bear population in North Jersey, and to begin to develop a black bear population model for other parts of the state. Black bears have been observed in all 21 counties in New Jersey, with some prominent sightings of black bears in Central and South Jersey last spring, but the number of bears living outside of the northwestern portion of the state remains low, with no population estimate currently available.

Black bear hunting is taking place this week within a 1,000-square-mile area north of Route 78 and west of Route 287. It is complemented by black bear hunts that occur each autumn in neighboring Pennsylvania and New York, where 3,510 and 1,358 bears respectively were taken by hunters in 2013. Bears living in North Jersey also traverse parts of those neighboring states. 

It is expected that by Monday morning, more than 7,000 bear hunting permits will have been obtained by licensed hunters from New Jersey and other states for this year’s hunt. A maximum of 10,000 permits will be allocated.

For information on New Jersey’s 2014 black bear hunt, including bear permit availability, and information on the 2003, 2005 and 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013 bear harvest results, visit:
http://www.njfishandwildlife.com/bearseason_info.htm

For the state’s Comprehensive Black Bear Management Policy, visit: http://www.nj.gov/dep/fgw/bearpolicy10.htm

For more information on black bears, including black bear biology and behavior, and bear safety tips, visit: http://www.njfishandwildlife.com/bearfacts.htm
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MEDIA NOTE: Information on the numbers of bears taken will be posted online at http://www.nj.gov/dep/fgw/bearseason_info.htm this evening, as soon as possible after the 7 p.m. closing of the five check stations, but not likely until late this evening. On subsequent days, postings will occur by 8 a.m. the following day.

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Last Updated: December 8, 2014