Overruling wildlife officials, governor largely bans New Jersey bear hunting
By Chris Eger
A report released by New Jersey wildlife officials earlier this year stresses that hunting seasons “alleviate damage and nuisance incidents caused by problem bears,” and warns that the current population could double in four years if hunting is taken off the table. (Photo: New Jersey Division of Fish & Wildlife)
New Jersey’s Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy on Tuesday went after the long-practiced sport of bear hunting in the state by issuing an order banning it on public land.
The Executive Order, his 34th since taking office earlier this year, directs the state Department of Environmental Protection to close all state forests, parks, recreation areas, historic sites, wildlife management areas and natural areas to bear hunting for the upcoming season. Murphy’s office said in a statement that the order was the “fullest extent of the Governor’s legal power to unilaterally limit the bear hunt.”
Murphy called upon state lawmakers to take further action on the issue and cautioned that, while his “first concern has always been public safety” the legislature should “review all non-lethal options,” before authorizing another hunt.
New Jersey’s black bear population, currently believed to number around 3,500 with sightings in at least 21 counties, has rebounded in recent years and, since 2003,