(TRENTON) – Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Timothy Eustace, Raj Mukherji, and Thomas Giblin to remove black bear from list of games species was approved by an Assembly panel on Thursday.
“Whether we like it or not Black bears are an integral part of the state’s natural heritage and a vital component of healthy ecosystems,” said Eustace (D-Bergen, Passaic). “The state’s current policy dictating multiple hunting seasons to control the black bear population is inhumane. For 30 years, New Jersey went without hunting black bear as a control method and with the alternative methods we can do it again.”
The bill (A-3527) – sponsored by Eustace, Spencer, Mukherji, Giblin- would designate the black bear as a nongame species and require that it be protected in the same manner and to the same extent as any other nongame species of mammal indigenous to the state that is protected by “The Endangered and Nongame Species Conservation Act.” The bill would remove the black bear from game species status, and by doing so ensure that it could no longer be legally hunted in New Jersey.
“More stringent refuse management policies and a prohibition on feeding bears are among numerous alternative methods to contain the black bear population,” said Mukherji (D-Hudson). “We do want to maintain an ecological balance, but there are better and more humane ways to protect and control the black bear species than organizing a mass killing of black bears twice a year.”
“There are non-lethal methods to address the concerns surrounding black bears in the state,” said Giblin (D-Essex). “The state must take steps to ensure public safety and property protection but we can stop doing it at the expense of an entire species.”
New Jersey resumed state-regulated bear hunting in 2003 after a ban that lasted more than 30 years. In 2010, the state began allowing an annual bear hunt.
Eustace is also sponsor of Assembly Resolution-127 which opposes expansion of black bear hunting season in New Jersey. This bill was also released by the Assembly panel.
The bill was approved by the Assembly Environment and Solid Waste Committee. It will now go to the Speaker for further review.