July 24, 2023

New Jersey Game and Fish Council Votes to Support Return of Black Bear Hunting Season

Article Contact: Fred Bird,

Why it Matters: In New Jersey, the Department of Environmental Protection and the New Jersey Fish and Game Council (Council) serve as the premier experts on all matters relative to fish, wildlife, and their habitats. For over half of a decade, New Jersey’s Comprehensive Black Bear Management Policy (CBBMP) has lapsed due to political obstructionism. The result was expected – human-black bear conflicts skyrocketed. Bear hunting is an effective and resourceful wildlife management practice which is why states across the nation rely on hunting to control the bear population and reduce human-wildlife conflicts. The Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) applauds the Council’s support of the CBBMP, taking the state one step closer towards a more permanent reauthorization of the black bear hunting season.     

Highlights:

  • On July 11, the New Jersey Game and Fish Council voted to approve the state’s CBBMP, checking a necessary and crucial box towards reinstituting a black bear hunting season in the Garden State.
  • This follows a decision made at the end of last year in which New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy invoked an emergency rulemaking to enact a CBBMP which was then approved by the New Jersey Fish and Game Council.
  • Earlier this year, the CSF spearheaded a sign-on letter of support that saw participation from 13 other conservation and sportsmen’s organizations, calling for the state to adopt the proposed CBBMP and Game Code Amendments in New Jersey.

Earlier this month, sportsmen and women in the Garden State crossed a significant milestone towards the reintroduction of a black bear hunting season. As CSF has extensively reported over the past eight months, at the end of 2022, an emergency rulemaking was held to reauthorize the black bear season in which the CBBMP was approved by the state’s Fish and Game Council and issued through Executive Order. With the CBBMP being issued through emergency rulemaking, it was only valid for 120 days, requiring the state to run through the normal public comment period to formally reauthorize the black bear hunting season. On July 11, the New Jersey Fish and Game Council voted to approve components of the CBBMP which will then be sent to New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Shawn LaTourette for his signature.

Earlier this year, CSF led a sign-on letter that encouraged the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection to support the proposed CBBMP and reinstate a powerful management tool for controlling the bear population and reducing human-wildlife conflicts while bolstering contributions to the American System of Conservation Funding.

As was stated at the Council’s July meeting, objectives for the CBBMP included the ability to “Manage the bear population at a level commensurate with available habitat and consistent with reducing risk to public safety and property” and to “Ensure that regulated hunting remains a safe and effective management tool to provide recreation and control New Jersey’s black bear population.” These objectives align with Governor Phil Murphy’s statement in November 2022, warning that New Jersey’s black bear population was skyrocketing, claiming that “Incidents reported to the DEP from January through October of this year have increased by 237% compared to the same period in 2021.”

CSF thanks the many organizations who have dedicated their efforts towards the reauthorization of black bear hunting in New Jersey. Further updates on this topic may be made available when possible.

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