Are the repeated years of ignoring the recommendations of the state’s wildlife biologists and rejecting proposed bear hunting seasons starting to come back and bite New Jersey’s governor and the Department of Environmental Protection director? Many in the hunting community are beginning to think so, as black bears—virtually unmanaged and with little fear of humans—continue to cause a record number of nuisance incidents in the Garden State.
The Daily Record reported last week that since August, the DEP has recorded 1,372 incidents of damage and nuisance statewide—a record—and the agency expects the report numbers to increase in coming weeks as bears prepare for their winter denning.
Last week, an unusually bold black bear broke through the window and door screens of a Boonton, New Jersey home and helped itself to the contents of a bag of groceries sitting on the kitchen counter. Sgt. Daniel Worts said officers arrived to find groceries, including TV dinner containers, an orange and two small empty milk cartons, strewn across the ground outside the home of a 76-year-old woman.
Darlene Yuhas, a spokeswoman for the DEP, says the agency has recorded 55 previous reports of bears breaking into homes statewide.
“Home entries are among the incidents that we consider to be the most serious,” Yuhas said. “And bears that break into homes, we make an effort to capture them, if possible. They’re euthanized.”
Will the continuing escalation of human/bear-related incidents be enough to persuade the current administration that the need is critical for serious, professional and scientific management of the state’s bear population?
Perhaps. But it’s not likely that bear hunters will be given an opportunity to do their part to control New Jersey’s bruin numbers for at least another year.