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07 December 2011

Repudiation: Bear Hunt in New Jersey

Happy Bear Day!  or not if you are a bear in New Jersey.

Despite the fact that there are relatively few humans attacked by bears (four between 2006 and 2010), the bear hunt is on.  According to the New Jersey Star-Ledger, 257 bears were killed on the first day of a week of open season on bears.  More than six thousand hunters have permits to kill the black bear.

The black bear is native to New Jersey and most of the eastern United States.  While it is an omnivore, about 85% of its diet is vegetarian.  We, humans, are the primary predators that black bears need to fear.

The black bear is accused of violence more often than it is actually violent towards humans.  The two most recent "attacks" that appear prominently in New Jersey news accounts are one that was a false accusation and one attack against a llama.  The latter attack did result in an injury to the owner of the llama who broke a toe kicking the bear after it had been killed.

Like wolves, hunting bears is usually considered acceptable because of the myth that bears pose a significant threat to humans.  It is a myth.  The New Jersey Division of Fish & Wildlife (NJDFW) has a lot of information on the black bear in New Jersey. 
They are an integral part of the state's natural heritage and a vital component of healthy ecosystems.
The most common complaint to NJDFW is of bears going through garbage as they look for food.  For this and other "nuisance behavior" more than a thousand bears will likely be killed.  Perhaps we should be looking for human population control before that of bears.

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