Sierra Club says bear hunt not needed

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The New Jersey Sierra Club says the state’s annual bear hunt is a poor excuse for an actual bear-management plan because unless a plan deals with protection of habitats, PMgarbage and educating people in bear country, the hunt is meaningless.

Additionally, says the organization, the hunt puts people and property in harm’s way.

And there are too few bears to justify it.

The Sierra Club says that according to the latest N.J. Division of Fish and Wildlife Bear Activity Report, the number of bears in New Jersey dropped by 87 percent from 2009 to 2018, sightings dropped by 83 percent and damage and nuisance reports dropped by 86 percent.

Encounters with aggressive bears tied the lowest total since 2010 with two in 2017. This year, however, four were reported through June 20.

Bear hunting in the northwest corner of the state is still on track to continue in 2018 although bear encounters are at a record low.

Last year’s hunt played games with the tagging system and many of the bears killed were cubs and sows, according to the Sierra Club.

The bear hunt was initiated initially to get rid of aggressive and nuisance bears, but the reason for that purpose is gone.

“That is why Murphy should keep his pledge and put a moratorium on the hunt this year and implement a real bear management plan. One that includes strong education and uses warning signs in the region, education materials at trailheads, enforcing not feeding bears, and garbage management,” said Jeff Tittel, director of the New Jersey Sierra Club. “The number of bears has been decimated from the bear hunts. Since 2010, over 4,000 bears have been killed from the hunt and car accidents, and put down because they were aggressive bears. We believe the number of bears in New Jersey is much lower than what the Division of Fish and Wildlife says.”

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