The bear hunting season in New Jersey is expanding.
The Fish and Game Council has added a six-day hunt in October to the early December season and widened the North Jersey areas where bear hunting is allowed.
Too many bears in a particular area forces them into territory where they may encounter residents, said Larry Hajna, a Department of Environmental Protection spokesman.
“Bears are very territorial and, as the population increases, bears are striking out on their own, especially young males, and looking for territory of their own,” he said. “They’re looking for mates, and they’re going into more populated areas of the state.”
Expanding the bear hunt could ease those concerns, Hajna said.
“Reducing the overall numbers is going to reduce the pressures that will move outward into the residential areas,” he said. “It’s not going to eliminate all of them, but it’s going to establish more of a balance.”
But conflicts between bears and humans will continue unless people take preventive measures, said Doris Lin of the Animal Protection League of New Jersey.
“We need to control garbage. People need to clean up their barbecue grills and their bird feeders,” Lin said. “As long as there are attractive suburban neighborhoods, bears will be attracted to suburban neighborhoods … and bears will not solve that problem.”
About 3,600 bears inhabit New Jersey, nearly the same number there were when the annual hunt launched five years ago.