TRENTON, N.J. (Legal Newsline) - Animal rights groups suffered a setback as the Appellate Division of the New Jersey state Superior Court upheld the state's Comprehensive Black Bear Management Policy.
N.J. Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Bob Martin said he was pleased by the Thursday ruling that clears the way for a bear hunt that will take place in northwestern New Jersey.
"This ruling affirms the science- and fact- based policy that we have adopted as part of a comprehensive approach to managing black bears in New Jersey," said Martin. "The plan is a legitimate response to deal with a large black bear population and a resultant increase in public complaints about bear and human encounters. This is a public safety issue that requires responsible action by the state."
The three-judge panel rejected arguments made by the New Jersey Animal Protection League and the Bear Education and Resource Group contending the DEP and State Fish and Game Council acted arbitrarily and/or in bad faith in creating the CBBMP, which includes an annual bear hunt.
The DEP's Division of Fish and Wildlife is seeking to stabilize and reduce the state's black bear population, to eventually be maintained at a density that minimizes human/bear conflicts, provides for a sustainable population within suitable bear habitat, and minimizes movement of bears to unsuitable habitat in suburban and urban areas.
More than 6,400 bear permits have been issued so far in 2011. DEP biologists predict a harvest similar to 2010, when more than 7,000 permits were issued and 592 bears were harvested.
About 20 percent of harvested bears in 2010 were considered nuisance bears, causing property damage and/or involved in bear-human incidents. The result was a 4 percent decrease in total bear complaint calls to DEP, with damage and nuisance calls down 13 percent.