If you are planning to hunt bears in New Jersey this year then you should cancel your plans. There will be no bear hunting allowed this fall in New Jersey.
The NJ Division of Fish and Wildlife announced last month that the 2021 Bear season is officially closed. The state’s Comprehensive Black Bear Management Policy expired and without such a policy, hunting cannot take place. A policy was submitted but never approved before the previous plan expired.
Many identify that the source of the stalling is the current New Jersey governor, Phil Murphy, who had already used his executive power to close public lands to bear hunting back in 2020. After the closure in 2020, Governor Murphy stated, “This means, that the 2020 bear hunt… will be the last bear hunt under my administration”. In an October 2020 press release, The Backcountry Hunters and Anglers (BHA) stated, “Governor Murphy’s bold statement is politically motivated, emotionally charged and scientifically flawed.” BHA continues to support New Jersey hunters and “believes in science-based wildlife management and preserving the integrity of our hunting and fishing heritage in New Jersey and across North America.”
The failure to sign the 2021 Management Plan appears to be the act of the Governor following through on his 2020 statement. The approval does not lie with the Governor through. The Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Shawn M. LaTourette must sign off on the updated Comprehensive Black Bear Management Plan which was submitted ahead of the deadline. LaTourette was appointed to this position by Governor Murphy and The New Jersey Herald reports, “Not only has he not signed off on the updated plan, but Fish and Game Council member Phil Brodhecker said he has been told LaTourette hasn’t even read it. This is all politics.”
This politically fueled failure to adopt policy continues to exist despite reports showing the rise in the black bear/human encounters in New Jersey. The estimated bear population in 2020 was 3,158, the third-highest this century, according to the DFW. An increase of population can often lead to an increase of human and Bear encounters. “In 2019, state residents reported 169 bear sightings, and a year later the number jumped to 349, according to Department of Environmental Protection figures.” Traditionally, hunters have been used to help manage the population, but that will not occur in 2021 or for the foreseeable future.
Do you wish to speak out against the recent stalling on the Black Bear Management Policy? BHA has a great template to use to share with your local officials to voice your concern. Use the link below to speak out!