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March 27, 2007

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Discussion Topic: Is New Jersey Skewing the Bear Facts?

By now you know that New Jersey’s new governor and DEP commissioner yanked a hard-won black bear season away from the state’s hunters last year. Now, in their effort to explore non-lethal methods of bear control, the state is disseminating so-called educational material. But some of it smells a little like propaganda.

For example, check out the linked document from the state’s Division of Fish & Wildlife entitled “Questions and Answers About NJ’s Black Bears.” To the question, “Weren't black bear numbers kept low in New Jersey through extensive hunting?” the following answer is given:

No. The population remained small throughout most of the 20th century due to limited amounts of suitable habitat. There were legal hunting seasons for black bear in New Jersey only in the years 1958, and 1962 through 1970. The limited hunting season during those 10 years resulted in only 46 bears being harvested, indicating a relatively small population. This prompted the Division, the Fish and Game Council and the sportsmen of New Jersey to close the season in 1971.

This answer conspicuously omits the fact that during the state’s two recent bear hunts in 2003 and 2005, sportsmen took a whopping 626 bears. What’s more, a chart that follows this excerpt shows that bear complaints went down precipitously immediately following the 2003 season. Yet, in the section that discusses management tools and bear-control options, hunting is not even mentioned.

So what do you think? Are New Jersey wildlife officials giving the public the bear facts—or their own spin on them?



Sounds a little fishy- er ah beary to me. Facts do not bear out the information given here!


NJ governor Corzine is (illegally?) overstepping the stated goal of the NJ Division of Fish, Game and Wildlife to "maximize the recreational and commercial use of New Jersey’s fish and wildlife for both present and future generations." There's a legal game species overpopulating the state, and he's not letting hunters hunt them? Why not? Does Karla Katz has a thing for bears?

So, The New Jersey Fish & Game Dept. is deliberately withholding and distorting facts about hunting. Yet they are funded with hunting license money. This is an outrage!!!


I would definitely say the facts are being distorted. New Jersey would be a horrible state to live in as a hunter.


New Jersey hunters are being railroaded plain and simple. It is a frightening precedent. Unfortunately, this saga make have to take a tragic turn before the need for control-by-hunting is fully realized and implimented--and it will be on the heads of the Corzine and his cronies.


New Jersey hunters are being railroaded plain and simple. It is a frightening precedent. Unfortunately, this saga may have to take a tragic turn before the need for control-by-hunting is fully realized and implimented--and it will be on the heads of the Corzine and his cronies.


As a resident of the Garden State I must say that I have never known any of our upstanding politicians to be less than honest or forthright. uhhhh yeah right! This shouldn't come as a surprise to any one! Politicians grease the squeaky wheel. It is partially our fault as hunters for not squeaking loud enough!

Kristine Shreve

Politicians and govermental bodies regularly spin the facts to give the appearance they desire. This doesn't sound any different than the rest.

And yes, I know that comment may sound a little cynical, but when it comes to government and politicans I often am a little cynical.

See the other Field Notes story about the big bear shot by NJ fish and game. This is the future of hunting if ignorant, agenda-driven politicians like Corzine are allowed to make decisions about wildlife.

sad deal


Reason #437 why I would never live in NJ!


The facts are definitely being distorted. Over the past 100 years there has been more suitable habitat for bears in NJ than there currently is. Why would NJ be more suitable for bears now than 100 years ago? Why? Hello, because nobody is hunting or killing them to keep the population within manageable limits!
Before 1953, bears were regarded as pests. Their numbers were reduced throughout the 19th century. By the mid-20th century the number of bears in N.J. was estimated to be around 100. In 1953, black bears were classified as a game animal and were protected. There were few and limited hunting seasons. The numbers began to increase.
These are the numbers that I have found reported for the State's total bear
1970: 100;
1980: 50;
1999: 700;
2001-2002: 1777;
2003: 3278 (high estimate)
The growth rate based on this data looks exponential to me and this hypothesis has been confirmed by other sources. Of course without any significant population management, the bear population will only be limited by the food supply/carrying capacity of the environment.
I really wonder what the 2008 numbers would look like if a close to true estimate could be made for the entire state. Based on the information that I could gather up until 2003, my informed low estimate would be that the state bear population now (with no effective control in place) could be somewhere between 6000 to 8000. Prior to 1995 the bear population was restricted to the extreme northwest counties of N.J. Bears have now been sighted in all 21 counties.
The New Jersey black bear no-management program is negligent with regard to people's safety. For at least the past 5 years the NJ bear population has already more than exceeded the environment's carrying capacity. Taking garbage out of the equation will have no effect on bear-human interactions.
I doubt that the NJDEP Commissioner, Lisa P. Jackson, or Governor, Jon S. Corzine will admit that there is a bear problem in NJ even after a child is killed by a bear. This is a pathetic and shameful state when the life of a bear is held in higher regard than the life of a child.

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