NJSC urges Gov. Murphy to end bear hunt

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The New Jersey Sierra Club, Save NJ Bears and other environmental advocates rallied in Middletown, Gov. Phil Murphy’s hometown, on Saturday to urge the governor to keep his pledge on a moratorium on the state’s bear hunt.

Catherine McCabe, N.J. Dept. of Environmental Protection commissioner, is moving forward with the bear hunt, but the groups say there is no need for one: Bear encounters and nuisance reports are at a record low.

According to a report by the N.J. Division of Fish and Wildlife, the number of bears in New Jersey from 2009 to 2018 dropped by 87 percent, 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.

Jeff Tittel, Director of the New Jersey Sierra Club, in a statement called for “ Gov. Murphy to keep his commitment to stop the beat hunt and move forward with a management plan. The bear population has been so depleted that there aren’t many left to hunt. We may go back to the days where there’s only 50 bears left in the state.

“This year’s hunt was unbearable and waste, killing 409 bears. Despite there being a significant drop in the number of bear encounters over the past seven years, the hunt has continued to kill more bears.

"New Jersey’s bear encounter numbers are less than half of what they were in 2009. The main purpose of the hunt is gone. . .

“The black bear is a symbol that we still have wild places left in the state and that we haven’t completely given over to sprawl.

"The Governor's job is to control Fish and Game, not have them control the agenda for this Administration. Governor Murphy, do your job and cancel the hunt.”

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