More than 400 black bears in New Jersey were killed in the first four days of the bear hunt that ends Saturday.
An Assembly panel has approved legislation that would remove black bear from game species status so they could no longer be hunted legally in the state.
Angi Metler, the executive director of the Animal Protection League of New Jersey, believes the bear hunt is tragic. She says there are simple ways people can coexist with bears.
“Public education, attractant management — that means garbage, bird feeders — is the only solution that lowers the fertility rate of bears, keeps bears out of residential neighborhoods, and reduces complaints and incidences,” she said.
Ed Wengryn with the New Jersey Farm Bureau says banning bear hunting would hurt farmers.
“Bears like to go into corn field, hay fields. Without a mechanism to control not only the crop damage but early spring a lot of farmers that have sheep and goats the bears will take the young lambs as they’re born, use them for food,” he said.
The bear hunting season in the state was expanded this year with bow and arrow hunting permitted for the first time in more than two decades. The annual firearms hunt is planned for December.
State wildlife officials say the hunt helps achieve a sustainable bear population and reduces the potential for bear conflicts with nearby residents.