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news releases

December 10, 2017

Contact: Caryn Shinske (609) 984-1795
Lawrence Hajna (609) 984-1795
Robert Geist (609) 292-2994


(17/P117) TRENTON – The New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife today announced that the December portion of the bear hunt will be extended by four days per state regulations to achieve harvest objectives that protect public safety and maintain a sustainable bear population.

The next phase of Segment B will begin a half-hour prior to sunrise on Wednesday, Dec. 13 and will continue until a half-hour after sunset on Saturday, Dec. 16.

The state’s bear hunting season is broken down into two segments. A total of 21 previously tagged bears have been brought into check stations during the two segments in October and December. The cumulative tagged bear harvest rate for both segments is 15.6 percent of the 135 tagged bears for this year.

The regulations require an extension of up to four days should a minimum 20 percent tagged bear harvest goal not be reached by the scheduled close of the December season. Since the cumulative rate did not reach 20 percent by the end of Saturday December 9, the December season must be extended.

The state’s bear hunting regulations call for the closure of the season once the cumulative rate of tagged bear brought to check stations for the October season (Segment A) and/or the December season (Segment B) reaches 30 percent.

“Our goal is to utilize accepted scientific methodologies to maintain a sustainable bear population in the areas of the state where the population is densest, at the same time enhancing public safety by reducing the risk of encounters that could threaten property or endanger people,” said Division of Fish and Wildlife Director Larry Herrighty. “This approach has been very successful and has resulted in significant reductions in bear complaints.”

Northwestern New Jersey has one of the nation’s densest populations of black bears, a situation that has forced bears to expand territory into more populated areas of the state, increasing the risk of bear encounters with people and damage to property.

New Jersey’s Comprehensive Black Bear Management Policy, which has been integrated into Game Code, mandates the Division of Fish and Wildlife to extend the bear hunting season by four days should both hunting segments not achieve the 20 percent threshold deemed necessary to provide better ecological balance to the bear population and reduce the potential for bear-human encounters.

The total number of bears harvested in October was 244. The preliminary total for the number of bears harvested in December to date is 138 for a season total of 382.

The Division of Fish and Wildlife utilizes the number of bears it has tagged during the year as the scientific basis for making determinations of attaining harvest objectives. Division biologists affix tags to bears whenever an animal is handled for research purposes or in response to a nuisance complaint. This process allows wildlife experts to conduct the harvest with the best science and statistics available to manage the wildlife resource.

Bear hunting in New Jersey was expanded to two segments in 2016, with a six-day season for archery and muzzleloader rifles in October and a second six-day shotgun and muzzleloader hunt in December, to help meet harvest objectives to manage the population.

The bear hunting zones include all of Sussex, Warren, Morris and Hunterdon counties, as well as portions of Passaic, Somerset, Bergen, and Mercer counties.

Since the implementation of the two-segment system, the overall number of bear complaints has decreased 57 percent for the period Jan. 1 through Nov. 20 of this year, compared to the same period in 2016. The overall number of the most serious incidents, known as Category 1 incidents, has dropped 64 percent.

For information on New Jersey’s 2017 black bear hunt, including current and past harvest numbers, visit:

For more information on black bears, including black bear biology and behavior, bear safety tips and bear education, visit:



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Last Updated: December 11, 2017