328 black bears killed during New Jersey hunting season

Black bear, photo: Geoff Brooks on Unsplash
Black bear, photo: Geoff Brooks on Unsplash

Three hundred twenty-eight black bears lost their lives during New Jersey’s annual black bear hunt that ended Saturday. For a week, it was allowed to kill American black bears using arrow and bows, and firearms. Last year 315 black bears were killed.

“It is probably the most extreme black bear hunt in all of the United States,” Brian Hackett, state director New Jersey at the animal welfare organization The Humane Society of the United States, tells The Animal reader.

“What makes the state of New Jersey’s black bear killing so outrages and so extreme compared to other states in the USA is that you’re allowed to kill pregnant mama bears, you’re allowed to kill the cubs. These are practices that other states don’t allow,” he continues.

Bear baiting is also allowed in New Jersey. It’s a cruel practice of luring bears out of their homes by putting food out. Once the bear goes near the food, hunters shoot him.

“In New Jersey, there’s only one six-day portion in October, and then there’s another similar portion in December (to kill bears). So not even two full weeks of bear hunting. So out of all the weeks in the year, there’s very little actual hunting session for black bears, but the damage is horrific during those few days,” Hackett says.

The government allows this killing to control the population of black bears. They say they get complaints from humans that there are bears in ‘their’ environment.

According to Hackett, the state of New Jersey did not “properly manage and enforce trash management guidelines” attracting the bears to human habitat: “Humans create the problems and then they’re blaming it on the bears to justify
this ridiculous hunt during a pandemic.”

“We’ve had about 500 hunters from out of state coming to New Jersey. They’re coming from out of state in part because
our bear hunt is so extreme. There are people from states coming that are on our quarantine list, which means
that if you come from those states, you have to quarantine for two weeks,” Brian says about the rules in New Jersey to stop the spreading of COVID-19.

“These hunters aren’t quarantining for two weeks when they come here from out of state. They’re not socially distancing when they’re together killing bears. It’s an absolutely ridiculous violation of the governor’s own executive orders previously which have been put in place to protect the state’s residence from the virus.”

“We’re now sacrificing public health and were sacrificing our own states residence for the benefit of the few trophy
hunters,” Hackett says.

In 2017, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy promised to stop the black bear hunting, but he didn’t. According to Hackett, he said he would stop the black bear hunting if he gets re-elected again in 2021.

In December, the second week of ‘legal’ bear hunting is planned, but Hackett is positive they’ll be able to stop it, saying “we have a population that overwhelmingly opposes these practices and trophy hunting of black bear as well as other trophy hunting in general”.

Watch the full interview we had with Brian Hackett from The Humane Society of the United States here:

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