The controversial New Jersey Weeklong Bear Hunt, which was supposed to take place between December 7 and December 12 has been prolonged for 4 more days.
The decision, which was revealed on Sunday, December 13, was taken despite the fact harvesting grounds were greatly expanded this year, so as to include Hunterdon, Sussex, Morris, Warren, Somerset and Passaic, as well as some regions from Mercer and Bergen.
As a result, hunters managed to kill a total of 472 animals throughout the week, a significantly higher number compared to 2014, when 272 bears were slain.
However, officials at the Division of Fish and Wildlife, pertaining to New Jersey’s Department of Environmental Protection, believe that even more bruins should be slaughtered, so as to reduce population growth more effectively.
As stated by Commissioner Bob Martin, the Comprehensive Black Bear Management Policy clearly specifies that hunting season can continue for longer periods of time, if required targets aren’t met.
Following in-depth studies conducted ever since 2010, certain guidelines were introduced, specifying that harvesting rates calculated at the end of the weeklong hunt should be of at least 20% so as to maintain the number of bears within acceptable limits.
Therefore, in order to assess the effectiveness of this year’s hunt, researchers had previously tagged a number of 133 bears. Out of this group, just 24 were eventually shot and killed by hunters, which corresponds to an 18% success rate, which was well below the desired goal of at least 20%.
Apparently, the wild animals, whose number is believed to have reached 3,500, have been venturing closer and closer to populated areas, in their frantic search for food. Some of them were eventually euthanized, after entering people’s homes and putting their lives at risk.
That is why the annual tradition of Weeklend Bear Hunts has been re-instated back in 2003, after being on pause for 3 decades.
The professed objective of the hunting contest is to more effectively manage the escalating population of black bears, but now an unprecedented measure has been taken, by extending the event significantly.
More precisely, hunters who haven’t succeeded in catching any bear during the first week will be able to prove their mettle starting half an hour before sunrise on Wednesday, December 16, until half an hour after sunset on Saturday, December 19.
As authorities have emphasized, this new round of hunting testing the participants’ skill and precision will not include individuals who have already succeeded in fatally shooting bears in the original stage.
Moreover, another bear hunting competition lasting a week has been scheduled for October, when participants will be able to make 2 killings instead of just one, using bows and arrows.
It is expected that these recent announcements made by federal authorities will be met with even more criticism from animal rights activists, who have already deplored the initial Weeklong Bear Hunt as being excessively violent and callous.
According to them, other methods could be employed so as to limit the possibility that bears will reach human habitats. For instance, bear-proof garbage bins should be used, and kitchen equipment required for outdoor cooking should be stored indoors afterwards, in order not to attract the wild animals anymore.
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