493 bears killed in annual hunt

NEW JERSEY. The harvest rate of 17.8 percent falls short of state officials’ goal of 20 percent.

| 19 Dec 2023 | 08:25

Nearly 500 bears were killed in New Jersey’s annual black bear hunt, which ended Saturday, Dec. 16.

But the 493 total was short of state officials’ goal of a harvest rate of 20 percent, which they have said is needed to reduce the black bear population.

The 29 tagged bears killed represent a harvest rate of 17.8 percent.

Wildlife biologists attach tags to bears when one is handled for research purposes or is captured in response to a nuisance complaint.

The average harvest rate for the 2018, 2019 and 2020 hunting seasons was 14.3 percent compared with an average harvest rate of 20.1 percent for 2015, 2016 and 2017, according to state statistics.

No hunt was held in 2021. Last year, 114 bears were killed in nine days of hunting with a harvest rate of 7.1 percent.

The black bear hunt this year lasted six days in October and 10 days in December. The last four days were added because the 20 percent harvest rate had not been reached.

Of the total, 256 bears were killed in Sussex County, 127 in Warren, 72 in Morris, 32 in Passaic and six in Hunterdon.

In early September, the state Fish and Game Council approved a plan to hold annual black bear hunts through 2028.