Breaking: Brutal trophy hunt returns in shocking ‘emergency’ reversal of policy

By on November 16, 2022 with 11 Comments

Update 12/1/22: The start of the New Jersey bear hunt has been put on indefinite hold, as we, along with the Animal Protection League of New Jersey and Friends of Animals, challenge the decision to hold the hunt in court.

In a stunningly shortsighted and ill-advised decision, New Jersey officials voted Tuesday to bring back the state’s trophy hunt of black bears.

The disappointing move was approved Tuesday by a unanimous vote of the state’s Fish and Game Council and supported by a finding of “imminent peril” to public safety by New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy, in a stark reversal of his multiple campaign promises to prohibit bear hunts in the Garden State. We, along with many other animal protection groups and advocates in New Jersey, are wondering where the “emergency” is and why state authorities felt the need to circumvent the customary regulatory process.

Such an emergency rulemaking dispenses with the standard procedures requiring appropriate notice of the action and an opportunity for public comment; by law, it may be used only when the public is facing “imminent peril.”

In this case, there is no such peril. Between January and October of this year, bear attacks on humans increased by one, bear attacks on domestic dogs increased by five, and incidents of bears entering vehicles increased by four compared to the same window of time in 2021.  

But the New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife has artificially inflated the threat posed by black bears in the state by citing larger increases of significantly less dangerous interactions, such as sightings of injured bears and instances of bears looking for food in trash cans. By invoking an alleged “emergency,” New Jersey is doing a disservice to the public and nothing in regard to protecting its interests. State authorities excluded members of the public from participating in a decision that is likely to incite fear while harming New Jersey’s black bear population for years to come.

As Elissa Frank, our state director in New Jersey, noted at Tuesday’s hearing before the council: “Invoking an emergency rule to allow the trophy hunting of 20% of our state’s beloved bear population—when no emergency exists—is simply poor public policy and will allow an unsustainable slaughter of our state’s bears.”

Beyond that, it goes against sound science. Data from around the world shows that bear hunts do absolutely nothing to reduce human-bear conflicts and could actually increase them.

If New Jersey is serious about reducing human-bear conflicts, it ought to rely on established science and experience, and make the needed investments in proven-effective measures. These include providing residents with bear-resistant trash cans, educating the public about how human behavior can exacerbate conflicts, and enforcing laws and ordinances that help limit food attractants. In Colorado, the governor has done this, and granted $1 million to be split between local communities to find innovative solutions to reduce bear conflicts for the long term to stop the needless cycle of killing bears.

New Jersey would also do well to listen to its residents. A recent poll found that New Jersey voters disapprove of black bear trophy hunting by a two-thirds majority. And less than 1% of New Jersey residents hold a paid hunting license, with bear hunters making up an even tinier percentage of that. It’s nonsensical to ignore the wishes of the vast majority of constituents to satisfy the whims of a small segment of the population.

Without exception, all states that allow trophy hunting seasons of black bears still experience human-bear conflicts. In contrast, communities that have invested in comprehensive approaches to reducing human-bear conflict through bear awareness education initiatives and through providing tools and resources, like bear-resistant trash cans, have seen real progress. The choice is clear. We can resolve wildlife issues by reasonable thinking and humane approaches, not pandering to the few parties demanding a bear head or hide to hang on a wall.

Follow Kitty Block on Twitter @HSUSKittyBlock.

Wildlife/Marine Mammals

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  1. Donna SUTTON says:

    Leave our Wildlife along

    • Susan weston-browne says:

      What is it in humans that we have to kill defenceless snimals in this way.
      So he wants to eat.
      He likes your choice of food ….so…
      Has he to be shot?
      What about relocation?
      Presure to fund the world @ cop in Eygpt.
      Likd England we have our own things to attend to really

  2. Danielle says:

    So wrong poor animals I love Bears. Has to stop.

  3. Alan Alejandro Maldonado Ortiz says:

    No es posible los animalitos no son trofeos son seres vivos que sienten y merecen vivir esto tiene que acabar ya no se puede permitir mas violencia

  4. Bernard Goetz says:

    There are more humane logical long term methods for bear population control: Occasionally feed bears slightly with quality food at monitored locations (with hunters) far enough from humans. Instead of hunting them dart the adults and breed them like dogs. Same with deer, etc.Generally favor the smaller more timid males, etc, smaller animals eat less food and are less threat to humans. Humane termination of some is optional. Man can reduce the suffering of animals.

  5. Linda Gradia says:

    Trophy hunting is barbaric. Stop going backwards. In the world of finding humane solutions, this isn’t it.

  6. Robin Reyna says:

    These poor bears and all these animals need to get to a safe place as well as everything these poor animals we have kind-hearted people out there to save them and we know how they feel and everything



  8. Jacquie Vanderbilt says:

    So sad for the bears, they are just trying to survive, while limited food in the habitats.. we need to stand up for them, or they will go extinct. This needs to end!!

  9. John q taxpayer says:

    Hunting is a crucial part of the eco system just like animals kill other animals …humans are animals killing other animals keeps populations under control ..and stop pretending it’s only for the head or pelt bear meat is eaten regularly .. find a better cause to stump for like universal health care for humans

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