Update 12/09/10: Despite mounting evidence that there is no justification for a bear hunt, New Jersey started the hunt this week and record numbers of bears are being killed. Contact New Jersey legislators and officials calling on them to cancel the hunt now. Officials want to make the hunt an annual event and it's not too late to stop them.
New Jersey's first bear hunt in five years will be taking place December 6-11, 2010, and the sale of as many as 10,000 permits has begun.
As the Humane Society of the United States points out, hunting bears is not the solution to reducing human-bear conflicts, and it may end up exacerbating the problem. The hunt will be taking place far from civilization, killing bears in their own habitat and leaving the bears who actually live close to populated areas to thrive. And, hunters are allowed to use food to bait the bears, which means they're giving bears more reasons and more places to look for human food.
In Minnesota, the bear population grew from 8,000 to 21,000, but complaints plummeted from 2,859 to 625, thanks to outreach to residents on how to live with bears and avoid problems.
Instead of hunting bears and creating more potential problems, New Jersey should follow Minnesota's lead and focus on preserving remaining habitat, educating citizens on bear safety and preventing encounters, and cracking down on those who violate laws, like feeding wildlife, that put both humans and bears in danger.
Tell New Jersey to stop the bear hunt and look for more effective, humane solutions instead. The state's bear population is just recovering from habitat loss and over-hunting, now is not the time go back to shooting them.
Photo credit: Sam Ose