This year's hunt is the last of five begun in 2010 to reduce the bruin population and protect people, property (and bears) from human-bear interactions. This year's hunt will run from through Saturday in counties in northern and northwestern New Jersey. Any sex or size bear is fair game, including cubs, according to the state Department of Environmental Protection. Limit is one bear per hunter.
HOW MANY BEARS?
The state Fish and Game Council estimated in 2010 that there were roughly 3,400 bears living in New Jersey north of Interstate 80; it said there wasn't enough data to make an estimate for the rest of the state. About 1,600 bears have been killed in the four bear hunts, and the Department of Environmental Protection estimates there are now about 2,500 bruins in those areas.
Darsh Patel, a Rutgers University student hiking with his friends in Apshawa Preserve in West Milford, was killed by a 300-pound black bear in September after taking pictures of the bruin with his cellphone. Critics of the bear hunt say Patel's death shows that education and warning signs are more effective than killing the animals.
Overall reports of aggressive, or Category 1, bears have fallen from 235 in 2010 to 129 in 2013, though there was a slight increase from 2012 to 2013. Reports of home entries and attempted entries fell from 90 in 2010 to 33 last year, but have risen recently, to 44 through November 20 of this year. Similarly, reports of bears killing livestock fell from 68 in 2010 to 21 in 2012, but rose to 35 last year.