As if the violent, annual New Jersey bear trophy hunt instituted by Gov. Chris Christie in 2010 as a campaign promise to hunting groups who helped elect him wasn’t bad enough, an expanded six-day bear hunt has been added to the bloodshed this year, starting Oct 10.
Hunters will be allowed to kill any bear at any age, including mothers and cubs, and the cowardly practice of “ bear baiting”—luring bears with donuts, honey and other sweets to make it easier to shoot them is allowed.
Studies have showed that baiting has conditioned bears to associate the human scent with the bait, making them more likely to intrude where humans live. So not only is bear baiting despicable, it’s a public danger.
Tell Gov. Christie to stop endangering the public because of his allegiance to hunting groups and cancel the bear hunt! Call 609-292- 6000.
Humans have created conflict with bears because of rampant development into their habitat. New Jersey is the most densely populated state in the nation, with 1,210 humans per square mile.
The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection claims that the northwestern New Jersey bear population grew from 500 bears in 1992 to 3,400 bears in 2010, and that overall the population has been increasing and expanding southward and eastward from the forested areas of the northwestern New Jersey. But guess what? New Jersey’s human population increased by 1,044,144 people from 1990 to 2010, according to the U.S. Census. And northern New Jersey, along with New York and Long Island tied for the most populous metropolitan areas in 2000 and in 2010. Sadly, 2,379 New Jersey bears have paid the price of human overpopulation with their lives since the hunts began.
Instead of helping organize this gruesome hunt, NJ wildlife agencies should be educating residents who keep expanding into bear country about bear-proof garbage cans and proper garbage and rallying them to support New Jersey’s Bear Smart Bill (S.55/A427), which would prohibit bear baiting and make it mandatory for residents to use bear-resistant garbage cans—another solution to human-bear encounters the state has ignored. Instead they continue to advocate for hunters, who buy licenses from them.
Preventing conflict with bears is key to keeping the public safe. Deprive bears of all human sources of food, and the situation becomes a lot safer.
Contact your legislators and tell them to support the Bear Smart Bill during the upcoming legislative session. You can find your legislators here.