The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection 2011 Bear Hunt began Monday with hunters in possession of a permit allowed to kill one black bear each.
Bears are only allowed to be hunted in specific zones, which include parts of Bergen, Morris, Sussex, Warren, Somerset and Hunterdon counties, extending to the Pennsylvania and New York borders.
The six-day hunt, which was also held last year, is designed to help the DEP regulate bear population. According to the DEP, there are about 3,400 black bears living in a 1,000-square mile area north of Route 78 and west of Route 287. The DEP said the northwest corner of the state has one of the highest black bear population densities in the country.
"We are fully committed to this comprehensive black bear management effort, which not only protects the public but also safeguards our black bear population,'' said Dave Chanda, Director of the Division of Fish and Wildlife, in a press release. "That includes a continuing need to educate people who live in bear country or enjoy recreational opportunities in bear habitat areas on methods they can employ to limit the potential for negative interactions with black bears.''
According to final DEP results from the 2010 bear hunt, West Milford hunters harvested the most bears with 54 killed. Vernon Township harvested the second most with 50 bears and Walpack Township (also in Sussex County) harvested 50. The DEP reported that statewide, 243 bears were harvested on private property, 232 were harvested on state property, 93 on federal property and 24 on county-owned or municipal land.
Hunters are required to report kills to the department and transport bears to a DEP check station by 7 p.m. the day of the kill. There, they will be given a legal possession seal.
The bear hunt is held in conjunction with the six-day firearm deer hunting season.
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