Tech & Science

216 Bears Killed on First Day of Jersey Hunt

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A total of 216 bears were shot in New Jersey during the first day of a weeklong hunt of the animals. Barbara Goldberg / REUTERS

In New Jersey, it’s open season on bears. And some people are upset about it.

Hunters killed a total of 216 of the animals on December 7, the first day of the weeklong season, during which time the animals may be shot by those with permits. That total surpasses the 120 bears killed on the first day of hunting in 2014; last year’s weeklong haul was 272 of the animals.

Protesters showed up at several of the check-in stations where dead bears had to be registered and counted, such as the Whittingham Wildlife Management Area in Sussex County, carrying signs likening the hunt to “murder.”

But state wildlife officials defended the hunt, saying there’s a stable population of 3,500 bears in northwest New Jersey alone, and that the season is being carefully managed.

“We have the densest black bear population in the nation and we also have the most dense human populated state in the nation,” Carole Stamko, of the Bureau of Wildlife Management, told WABC TV. “So when you have those two, it's a perfect recipe for a human bear conflict, and we're trying to reduce that as much as we can.”

For the second year in a row, hunter Marc Beardslee was the first to bring in a kill to the Whittingham Wildlife Management Area, shooting each animal with a shotgun. “I was lucky enough to get out into the tree stand early this morning, way before sunrise,” Beardslee told NJ.com. “The Lord blessed me with the opportunity right quick, right out of the gate. I was saying earlier, I didn't even get a chance to crack my Thermos open yet.”

About 8,200 bear hunting permits have been sold, but only a fraction of that number of bears are allowed to be killed—it’s first-come, first-served.

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