New Jersey has begun its second annual six-day bear hunt in an effort to control the state’s growing bear population. This year’s hunt will allow about 6,200 hunters to track down the animals.
As expected, anti-hunt protestors were ready early Monday morning at the beginning of the hunt, winning a ruling from the sate Appellate Court allowing the protestors to demonstrate outside the check –in station on Route 23.
Hunters feel differently, with one stating “It’s not just walking and shooting. I think bears are a natural renewable resource and hunters are doing their job by hunting and keeping the bear population in check.”
This is after the state appeals court affirmed that the DEP’s bear management policy providing for the hunt was not arbitrary and capricious. Commissioner Bob Maritn stated, “the plan is a legitimate response to deal with a large black bear population and a resultant increase in public complaints about bear and human encounters.” Last year 592 bears were killed.
This raises the important issues of a growing human population that continues to intrude on the natural habitat of many animals. Initiating a hunt based on “increased public complaints” is a backwards way of thinking when it is the human population that is intruding on the bear’s habitat. It does not seem that the bears are over populated by their own standards, such as when white tail deer become overpopulated causing many of them to starve to death. Rather, the bears in New Jersey are only overpopulated to the extent that we feel they are threatening our own personal safety. It does not appear that the DEP has given reasons for killing the bears rather than relocating them to a more suitable habitat.