Posted Tuesday, October 10th, 2017
BLACK BEAR ARCHERY AND MUZZLE-LOADING RIFLE SEASON SEGMENT UNDERWAY IN NORTHWESTERN AND WEST-CENTRAL NEW JERSEY
(NJ DEP) The fall black bear hunt – an integral part of the state’s comprehensive policy to keep bear populations sustainable and enhance public safety – is taking place this week through Saturday, Oct. 14, in Morris County and other parts of Northwest and West-Central New Jersey.
Archery-only hunting is allowed through Wednesday, followed by a combination of archery and muzzle-loading rifle hunting on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Hunting is allowed a half-hour before sunrise until a half-hour after sunset.
A second Segment B hunt, a firearms-only season segment, will be held Dec. 4 through Dec. 9 if the harvest rate remains within acceptable limits by the close of next week’s season segment. The December segment could be closed or extended, depending on if or when the acceptable harvest rate is reached.
“Black bears are an important part of our natural ecosystem,” said Division of Fish and Wildlife Director Larry Herrighty. “Closely managed hunting is a key component of the state’s comprehensive approach for maintaining a sustainable bear population while reducing the potential for property damage and encounters with people.”
In addition to hunting, the state’s Comprehensive Black Bear Management Policy, approved by the New Jersey Fish and Game Council and the Department of Environmental Protection, emphasizes public education and research to reduce the potential for conflicts between bears and people in the nation’s most densely populated state.
“Based on our returns of tagged bears, we know that hunting results in the harvest of bears that have become habituated to people,” Herrighty said. “Notably, since the addition of the October hunt in 2016, overall bear complaints have dropped 55 percent, and Category 1 complaints involving encounters that present the greatest potential for someone to be hurt have dropped 65 percent.”
In 2016, hunters harvested a total of 636 bears during the two season segments, with 562 taken during the October segment. Bears are much more active in the fall than in December, when winter denning begins. A December season has been in effect since 2010. With the addition of a fall segment in 2016, the state achieved a 25.9 percent harvest rate, close to the 30 percent rate needed to keep the population at an appropriate level.
Bears have been reported in all New Jersey counties, with the highest concentration in northwestern New Jersey, which has a robust population and a high reproduction rate due to an abundance of excellent habitat and food sources.
Hunters may harvest bears in five zones that include all of Warren and Sussex counties, most of Hunterdon, Morris, Passaic and Somerset counties, and small portions of Bergen and Mercer counties.
Bears taken by hunters must be brought to official check stations, including two in Morris County at the Black River Wildlife Management Area in Chester Township and the former Green Pond Golf Course in Rockaway Township.
For more information on hunting regulations and equipment requirements, check stations, black bear biology, tips on reducing conflicts with bears, previous season harvests, bear incident reports, what to do when encountering a black bear and the state’s Black Bear Comprehensive Management Policy, visit: www.nj.gov/dep/fgw/bearfacts.htm