Black Bear Archery and Muzzleloader Rifle Season to Be Held Next Week in Northwest and West-central New Jersey
ADDED FALL SEASON WILL HELP ACHIEVE GOAL OF HEALTHY AND SUSTAINABLE BEAR POPULATION AND REDUCE POTENTIAL FOR ENCOUNTERS WITH PEOPLE
(16/P95) TRENTON – The fall hunting season for black bears – part of a comprehensive policy to keep bear populations sustainable and enhance public safety – will take place next Monday through Saturday in northwest and west-central New Jersey.
The six-day season will be split with archery-only hunting on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, and a combination of archery and muzzleloader rifle hunting on Thursday, Friday and Saturday.
Based upon the recommendation of the New Jersey Fish and Game Council, the Department of Environmental Protection last year formally adopted an updated Comprehensive Black Bear Management Policy that included a continuation of the annual December hunting season, in effect since 2010, with areas added where bears have been expanding. The updated policy also established an October hunting season for archery and muzzleloaders beginning this year.
“The introduction of a fall hunt, when black bears are more active, in addition to the zone expansions, will help us achieve our goal of a healthy and sustainable bear population and will increase opportunities for hunters to take bears in areas where bear and human encounters have been reported due to bears expanding their territories,” said Division of Fish and Wildlife Director David Chanda.
Hunting is permitted each day beginning a half-hour before sunrise until a half-hour after sunset.
Four bear hunting zones that have been in effect since 2010 encompasses a roughly 1,000-square-mile area of northwestern New Jersey. This area includes all or portions of Hunterdon, Passaic, Morris, Somerset, Sussex, and Warren counties, and a small portion of Bergen County.
With the adoption of the new Comprehensive Black Bear Management Policy last year, bear hunting was extended to a fifth zone, adding more of Hunterdon and Morris counties, a small additional portion of Passaic County, a small portion of Mercer County and an additional portion of Somerset County.
Hunters must be licensed for archery or firearm by the Division of Fish and Wildlife and must secure a bear permit. The Division of Fish and Wildlife has made available 11,000 bear permits for the October season. Hunters may possess permits for up to two zones.
As of today, the Division of Fish and Wildlife has issued more than 7,700 permits. Subject to availability, permits will remain available for sale throughout the week.
Hunters may take one bear during each of the two seasons with valid permits, and no more than two bears total. All bears must be taken to a designated check station the same day that the animal is taken, or first thing the next morning if circumstances preclude bringing it to the station before it closes.
Check stations for next week’s hunting season will be open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Check stations are located at the Clinton Wildlife Management Area in Hunterdon County; the Pequest Wildlife Management Area in Warren County; the Black River Wildlife Management Area and Green Pond Golf Course, both in Morris County; and the Flatbrook Roy Wildlife Management Area and Wittingham Wildlife Management Area, both in Sussex County.
“As always, we stress the importance of hunter safety and now, with an archery hunt, hunters should take extra time to understand the regulations for the upcoming hunting season,” Director Chanda said. “It is very important that hunters respect this natural resource by taking only high percentage shots within 20 yards of the animal.”
All other states that allow bear hunting have archery seasons, and now New Jersey allows hunters to use archery equipment. The state had intermittent bow-and-arrow seasons for bears during the 1950s and 1960s.
The northwestern part of New Jersey has one of the densest populations of bears in the nation, resulting in the potential for conflicts with people. This part of the state also has one of the nation’s highest bear reproduction rates, due largely to abundant food sources and excellent habitat.
The Division of Fish and Wildlife has expanded education efforts in these areas to help residents and local officials understand bear behavior and reduce potential for conflicts, including offering advice to property owners and outdoors lovers on steps they can take to avoid encounters with bears.
The updated management policy was developed after extensive research and review of five December bear hunting seasons that had taken place since 2010. December, a time of year when bears become less active due to denning, had been chosen for the hunting season as a conservative approach to allow the Division and Wildlife to evaluate harvest data and other scientific criteria.
The Division of Fish and Wildlife determined that expanded hunting opportunities were necessary to reduce the population and to reduce conflicts with people, due in part to continued expansion of bears into areas outside the hunting zones established in 2010. The firearm season this year will be held December 5 through December 10.
For more information on hunting regulations and equipment requirements, locations where bears may be hunted and checked in, black bear biology, tips on reducing conflicts with bears, what to do when encountering a black bear, the Black Bear Comprehensive Management Policy, and other valuable information, visit: http://www.nj.gov/dep/fgw/bearfacts.htm