New Jersey’s first bear hunt in 33 years, prompted by rising numbers of run-ins with humans, ended with hunters taking about 10 percent of the state’s estimated bear population.
The six-day hunt ended Saturday evening with 328 confirmed kills — 209 females and 119 males, state Division of Fish and Wildlife Director Martin McHugh said. Sixteen of them had been tagged as nuisance bears, he added.
Wildlife officials initially had hoped the state’s bear population, estimated at about 3,200, would be reduced by up to 500 bears, but McHugh said the hunt “went as we expected it would go.”
“This hunt was not designed to eliminate bears. We’re going to have bears in this state for a long time,” he said.
The hunt, which took place over 1,500 square miles in northern and western New Jersey, was intended to stem the rising tide of complaints about the animals breaking into suburban homes, raiding trash cans, killing livestock and wandering into traffic.
Animal rights groups unsuccessfully challenged the hunt in court and protested at several locations during the week. McHugh said there were no arrests involving protesters.
McHugh did not comment on whether another hunt would be scheduled for next year.