The infamous New Jersey black bear hunt, met with brash opposition, closes this coming Saturday in the Garden State. The two-phase season which consisted of a 6-day archery and muzzleloader October season as well as a firearm-only season, has reportedly eclipsed the record number of bears taken back in 2010.
The extended six day October hunt saw a total of 562 bears killed and brought to weigh stations manned by Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) officers. The opening morning of this week’s firearm season saw 27 bears on the ground, followed by Tuesday’s 18 reported kills, bringing this year’s total to 607 bears.
The previous record, set in 2010 was 592 bears, the first bear hunt after the state took a five-year hiatus.
The season is set to run until Saturday, unless pre-determined thresholds are met before that time. The rules of the hunt dictate that the bear hunt will conclude immediately after the cumulative percentage of tagged bears killed reaches 30 percent.
In 2016, officials successfully tagged 197 bears in the state of New Jersey, so that threshold number would amount to 60 tagged bears being killed. As of Tuesday, the tagged bear total was at 48 bears, 46 of which were killed during the October hunt.
Despite heavy opposition from groups of angry protesters at weigh-in stations, DEP spokesperson Robert Geist credited sanctioned hunting seasons as “just one aspect of our comprehensive bear management plan,” and one that “gets the most attention.”