New Jersey plans to reinstate its controversial annual black bear hunt.
Gov. Phil Murphy, a Democrat who has long opposed the hunt, announced Thursday that the state’s Fish and Game Council will meet next week to consider game code amendments that would allow the hunt’s resumption starting next month. Murphy cited a sharp increase in bear sightings and bear-human interactions, as well as predictions by wildlife officials that the state’s bear population could grow to more than 4,000 in the next two years.
If the changes are approved, the hunt would be held from Dec. 5-10. Additional hunting would be allowed from Dec. 14-17 if the goal to reduce the bear population by 20% isn’t achieved in the first hunt.
The proposed game code amendments would bar hunters from killing cubs under 75 pounds and bears traveling in family packs with cubs below 75 pounds. There will also be restrictions on baiting.
NEW JERSEY HOUSE SEAT FLIPS AS REPUBLICAN THOMAS KEAN JR. DEFEATS DEMOCRATIC INCUMBENT REP. TOM MALINOWSKI
Murphy said he felt he had no choice about resuming the hunt, which was not held last year. In previous years, he had barred bear hunting on public lands that are under the jurisdiction of the state’s Department of Environmental Protection.
“While I committed to ending the bear hunt, the data demands that we act now to prevent tragic bear-human interactions,” Murphy said.
The decision was criticized by environmental activists and hunt opponents.
NEW JERSEY SYNAGOGUE THREAT THAT DREW FBI ATTENTION IS ‘MITIGATED,’ MURPHY SAYS
“This is a betrayal of the public trust for political purposes.” said Jeff Tittel, the former longtime leader of the state’s Sierra Club chapter. “Gov. Murphy is doing the hunt as emergency rule. However, he will not sign an emergency rule for climate change. flooding, cleaning up toxic sites or protecting our drinking water. But he will do it to shoot bears.”
The bear hunt was reintroduced in New Jersey in 2003 to control the growing bear population, after a nearly three-decade hiatus. Before last year, it had been held annually since 2010 and repeatedly faced ongoing legal challenges from animal protection organizations.
CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APP
In 2015, Republican Gov. Chris Christie added a second annual hunt in October to the existing hunt in December, increased the number of hunting permits and allowed bow hunting.