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Grizzly bears, black bears, wolves, coyotes, cougars/ mountain lions,bobcats, wolverines, lynx, foxes, fishers and martens are the suite of carnivores that originally inhabited North America after the Pleistocene extinctions. This site invites research, commentary, point/counterpoint on that suite of native animals (predator and prey) that inhabited The Americas circa 1500-at the initial point of European exploration and subsequent colonization. Landscape ecology, journal accounts of explorers and frontiersmen, genetic evaluations of museum animals, peer reviewed 20th and 21st century research on various aspects of our "Wild America" as well as subjective commentary from expert and layman alike. All of the above being revealed and discussed with the underlying goal of one day seeing our Continent rewilded.....Where big enough swaths of open space exist with connective corridors to other large forest, meadow, mountain, valley, prairie, desert and chaparral wildlands.....Thereby enabling all of our historic fauna, including man, to live in a sustainable and healthy environment. - Blogger Rick

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Sunday, December 14, 2014

Did New Jersey have 3400 Black Bears in 2010 prior to the first of what has been 5 consecutive hunts?...............Are there now 2500 Bruins after this years now concluded hunt removed another 267 of the animals?............Is it only human/bear conflict that should be guiding this States Dept of natural resources decision making on hunting Bears?....... NJ Biologists are on record noting the top down positive trophic impacts that the bears bring to the system.............So shouldn't the determination of kill quota and length of hunting season factor for this as well as human conflict and human desire for trophys? .......................Here is what THE NEW JERSEY AGRICULTURAL STATION states about the benefits of having Black Bears in the Jersey woods......... "It is important to know that Black bears serve an important role in healthy ecosystems"..................... "Considered an umbrella species, black bears use a variety of habitats during their life cycle".................... "Their presence or absence in a region may be an indicator of the health and connectivity of an ecosystem"...................... "In addition, because they have the ability to travel great distances feeding on fruits and berries, bears disperse the seeds of many different plant species".......................... "When foraging, bears clear small amounts of vegetation, which opens up space for additional plants to grow".................. "In this way, they promote biodiversity in several habitats"............ "Finally, black bears are an important part of our cultural heritage and natural history"

The NJ Division of Fish and Wildlife (DFW) and the NJ Fish and Game Council (Council) have managed black bears as game animals since 1953. Black bears in NJ live in close proximity to
people and human development, taking advantage of diverse natural foods supplemented withhuman-derived food sources and protected habitats such as wetlands, undeveloped open space,
and forested waterways.

 Garden State bears, like those throughout the Mid-Atlantic region, gain weight faster, breed earlier and have larger litters than black bears in other regions of NorthAmerica.......North Jersey has one of the highest densities of bears compared to anywhere in the USA.

Due to the protection afforded them by game animal status, a closed hunting season from 1971 through 2002, bear population increases in Pennsylvania and New York and improved habitat
from the maturation of forested areas, the bear population has increased in size, density and occupied range.

 Bears have been sighted in all 21 counties statewide. The greatest
number of bears and highest density occurs in northern NJ, north of Interstate I-78. The bear population is progressively expanding southward into the central part of the state, spreading
down to the Route 1 corridor running from New York City to Philadelphia and eastward toward the more human populated areas of the New York City metro area.

 The range expansion has been facilitated by the wetlands protections enacted to protect the forested areas along streams
and rivers, which provide travel corridors.

NJ bears are interbreeding with Pennsylvania bears and are also
thought(although not confirmed) to also be intermixing with NY bears............No interbreeding genetic defects have been seen in Jersey Black bears....Highways and Rivers have not thus far "closeted" Jersey bears from moving across the landscape.


Kill total in N.J. bear hunt rises

For the first time since the bear hunt began five years ago, this year's kill totals rose from the year before, along with an apparent resurgence of hunter interest. The hunt's kill total of 267 was more than last year's total of 251, and more than predicted by wildlife experts.

However, as the state prepares to come up with a new plan to manage the state’s bear population, their numbers need to be dropped even more, officials said.

"We still need a reduction in the bear population," said Larry Ragonese, a spokesman for the state Department of Environmental Protection. "They put pressure on the people living in northwestern New Jersey."

The five-year management hunt included the six-day annual hunt at the beginning of December, beginning in 2010. The timing was so that most bears would already be hibernating by the time hunters took to the woods, according to biologists. Since 2010, the number of kills over the six-day December hunt has declined from 592 to 267. A total of 1,866 bears were killed during the five hunts. Hunters and biologists have explained that "naïve" bears were taken first, and that hunters had a "one and done" mentality once they experienced the difficulties of processing a bear carcass.
Photo: A bear in a tree.
The population estimated at 3,400 before the 2010 hunt was thinned to 2,500 by the beginning of this hunt, biologists estimated.
State Division of Fish and Wildlife experts had predicted this year that 200 to 250 bears would be killed. Bad weather has slowed the hunt, but an apparent uptick in permit sales spurred the slightly higher numbers this year. 
The goal was to cut the population of New Jersey bears in half – to between 1,200 and 1,500 bears, said David Chanda, director of the state’s Division of Fish and Wildlife, during the 2013 hunt. The northwestern part of New Jersey has the densest bear population in North America, Chanda and other officials have said.

Ragonese said in an interview this year that no specific target number has yet been determined. The population estimates made after the kill data is analyzed will determine what course the Division of Fish and Wildlife will take, Ragonese said.

“The courts have been solidly behind us because we’ve had an intelligent, well-thought-out plan,” Ragonese said.

Protesters have pledged their opposition to the hunt, and especially the practice of baiting the bears with piles of food before the hunt begins. Opponents have continually maintained that bear population estimates are inflated – and that the Christie Administration was simply orchestrating a trophy hunt as political payback to hunting groups.

Susan Kehoe, an activist from Vernon who lives at the edge of Wawayanda State Park, said the woods were quieter during this year’s hunt than previous years – fewer gunshots and trucks traveling into the forests.

However, she also doesn't see the same bears she once recognized around her home. She said she took a picture of three cubs, gutted, in the back of a pickup truck in Sussex County during the first day of this year's hunt that made her sick.

If the hunt is expanded, she said, the future is bleak for the bear population.

“If they follow through, over the next two years, there’s not going to be any bears left,” she said. “I hardly see any bears here at all, any more.”

The hunt lured in out of state hunters. People from at least 27 other states represented the hunters who had purchased permits by the end of the week. One of them was Curtis Goettsch, a man from Iowa, and his friend Zac Gieth. They shot one late on the first day, and headed home Thursday after a few more wet and cold days, Goettsch said. Geith saw a few cubs on Wednesday, but he didn’t take the shot, Goettsch said.

“We came to New Jersey to hunt bears. Being from Iowa, we don’t have bears there,” he said. “People back home would say, ‘What? There’s bears in New Jersey?’”
In New Jersey, the majority of the black bear population inhabits the northwestern portion of the state bounded by Routes I-78 and I-287; however, they have been documented in all 21 counties. Where food sources are bountiful, bears will also inhabit residential and agricultural landscapes. Typical black bear habitat includes coniferous, deciduous, and mixed forests, particularly areas close to wetlands and streams.

 Bears prefer woodlands with dense understories of fruit- and nut-bearing vegetation; however, they can also occur in regenerating woodlands with thick, shrubby vegetation, preferring vegetative cover to open areas. The prototypic omnivore, bears consume a wide array of foods. While the majority of their diet includes vegetative material (especially fruits, nuts, and new plant growth), bears also feed on insects, small mammals, and young or injured deer. In some cases, black bears will also scavenge animal carcasses. 

Although bears are not considered territorial, individuals do establish home ranges. Average home range size for females (sows) in New Jersey is two square miles, and they may aggressively defend their territory if they are caring for cubs. Males (boars) tend to have larger home ranges that overlap multiple female home ranges to increase mating opportunities. Although bears are solitary animals (except females with cubs), where food sources are plentiful or habitat restricted, bears can occur in higher densities.

1 comment:

NJ Animal Observer said...

Thank you for posting this blog. The New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife wants to drastically reduce the black bear population and essentially eliminate the black bear's critical ecological role in Northwest NJ. At one point, the New Jersey Division of Wildlife wanted to reduce the population to around 300 bears or less than 10% the amount we had in 2010. You can read more in my blog here: