The New Jersey Chapter of Backcountry Hunters and Anglers believes in science-based wildlife management and preserving the integrity of hunting and fishing heritage in New Jersey. The ban on bear hunting on New Jersey public lands not only fails to uphold the robust system of science-based wildlife management in America, it also infringes on the rich heritage of public land hunting in New Jersey.
New Jersey's bear hunt was first put on moratorium in 1971 when fewer than 100 bears were found within the state. It was then reinstated in 2003, when New Jersey Fish and Wildlife (NJFW) deemed the recovered population strong enough to support sustainable harvest. Since 2003, NJFW has held that the hunt is necessary to effectively manage the now booming bear population. In 2004, the hunt was cancelled amid complaints about its ethicality, brought back in 2005, cancelled again in 2006, renewed in 2010, and cancelled on public lands solely in 2018.
The political flip-flop pertaining to the bear hunt inhibits NJFW to effectively manage wildlife populations for the benefit of the people, the land and bears. NJFW population estimates have demonstrated 3,400 bears occupying a 1,000 square mile area in the northwestern tier of the state. That’s 3.4 bears per square mile and one of the highest population densities of black bears in the nation. NJFW reports there are no current or viable management alternatives to manage the bear population other than hunting. With the bear hunting moratorium on New Jersey public lands, where most of the bear harvest in the state occurs, biologists are left helpless to manage bear populations and New Jersey outdoorsmen and women are stripped of their opportunity to both aid in the management of wildlife and enjoy a long-held tradition of hunting on New Jersey public lands.
The New Jersey chapter of Backcountry Hunters and Anglers strongly encourages current and future political leaders to champion effective wildlife management in New Jersey through support of a diverse and unrestrained set of wildlife management tools, including hunting seasons. Wildlife managers, guided by research, should dictate how wildlife is managed, not governors responding to a small group of people who oppose the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation.
Hunters support the purchase and stewardship of public land in New Jersey through the purchase of licenses and permits and through federal excise taxes on sporting equipment. License revenue feeds directly back into the operations of New Jersey Fish and Wildlife. The New Jersey Chapter of Backcountry Hunters and Anglers believes the ban on bear hunting on public lands is egregious to New Jersey hunters who depend on state and federal land for places to hunt and who contribute with their dollars to help manage public land.
New Jersey Backcountry Hunters and Anglers supports science-based bear management on public and private lands through hunting with limited seasons and limited harvest to keep bears at a carrying capacity beneficial to both New Jersey’s citizens and New Jersey’s rich and wild landscapes.