For the first time in five years, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection has called for a bear hunt to reduce the black bear population and bear complaints. The six-day hunt is being held in seven counties, mostly in the northwest, and aims to reduce the approximate bear population of 3,400 by 300 to 400. The DEP says 140 bears have been killed already today, and one protester has been arrested.
Bill Craine, identifying himself as a New York resident and a CUNY professor, told NJ.com, "We have to respect their right to live" as he was arrested for refusing to leave a restricted area at the Whittingham Wildlife Management Area during the first day of the bear hunt. He was joined by about two dozen other protesters at the site, though troopers were present to maintain order. But is New Jersey going about the bear problem the wrong way? Angie Metler of the Animal Protection League of New Jersey told WNYC, "Nationwide, studies have shown that non-lethal black bear management is the only solution that works in reducing bear complaints." She also said the bear population is still on the rise in Pennsylvania, despite record numbers of bears killed over the past few years.
The state has issued 7,000 permits for the bear hunt; one hunter who shot a 120-pound yearling told NBC 4, "I'm gonna actually get a rug made out of him," Bartnicki said. "It's on the way to the butcher; I'm gonna get a lot of hamburger made out of it and some Italian bear roast." The state says they will pair the hunt with education programs and bear-proof garbage cans. Today also marks the first day of the deer hunt, in case you like bears but just really want to shoot something.