The first phase of New Jersey’s bear hunting season will begin Monday and then continue through Saturday.
The first three days are limited to bow and arrow hunting. For the next three days, hunters can also use muzzle-loading rifles.
And a firearms-only hunt is set for early December.
New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection spokesman Robert Geist said 636 bears were culled last year, and the number of interactions between bears and humans dropped dramatically.
“That’s a really good thing because when bears tend to stay in their areas and don’t invade into areas where humans are more populous, we’re tending to see less problems. There are less nuisance calls,” he said. “There’s less times when Fish and Wildlife officials have to go out there.”
The hunts are a vital part of the state’s bear-management program, he said.
“To remove the hunt out of that would take out one of those legs that we’re doing,” Geist said. The approaches include “making areas bear-safe, continuing bear education for folks living in areas where bears are populated, and trying to make sure that we reduce those interactions.”
If he’s elected governor, Democrat Phil Murphy said he will stop the bear hunts until there is proof that it works better than non-lethal management strategies.