by Cody McLaughlin - Friday, August 7, 2020
An 82-year-old West Milford, N.J., resident was attacked by a black bear at his home on the night of July 24. According to news reports, the bear got inside the man’s garage after he left the door open. The man entered his garage around 9 p.m. and when he came face to face with the frightened bear, it clawed his face. The man was rushed to the hospital and reportedly received more than 30 stitches before being released two days later. The bear has reportedly been captured and destroyed by employees of the N.J. Division of Fish and Wildlife (DFW).
The resident requests to remain anonymous. Reports from fellow area residents familiar with the situation and statements from DFW employees who spoke out on the issue also requested to remain anonymous for fear of retribution.
Background on New Jersey’s Bear Population
Amid rising conflicts with black bears, the New Jersey DFW now monitors and categorizes the danger posed by individual bears. A Category 3 bear is almost harmless, while a Category 1 bear is a bear considered dangerous and is ultimately destroyed. The bear involved in this particular story met multiple Category 1 criteria, including entering a home, approaching within 10 feet of a human, interacting with a human and acting aggressively toward a human.
The NRA’s Hunters Leadership Forum has covered the ongoing New Jersey bear population controversy extensively over the past two years. Most recently, in a story titled “New Jersey Bear Hunt Restrictions Lead to Increased Human-Bear Conflicts,” we outlined the ways that New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy’s ban on bear hunting has led to massive increases in dangerous Category 1 bear encounters statewide.
As I reported for NRAHLF.org nearly two years ago, the bear hunting ban on state lands, which was instituted by the governor before the 2018 hunting season to appease anti-hunting extremists who supported his campaign—deprived hunters of 40 percent of available hunting land. As a result, the annual bear harvest was cut in half two years in a row—record-low bear management harvests. Now the bill has come due. State residents are seeing that bear sightings are up a whopping 93 percent, complaints are up 40 percent—with a 15 percent spike in dangerous Category 1 complaints—and overall bear reports are up 53 percent. Home entries by bears have doubled too, by the way.
Unfortunately, this is only the beginning of human-bear conflicts in the state of New Jersey as the bear population continues to explode across the state. Sadly, we can expect more stories like this one that don’t turn out well for the human or the bear involved. Reinstituting the bear hunt is one way to curb this senseless danger.
About the Author
Cody McLaughlin is a noted conservationist and conservative thought leader on public policy issues including hunting, fishing, gun rights, free-market tax and wage policy and the environment. He works as a GOP consultant for conservative political causes, managing clients’ digital communications and online presence and as a trustee of the New Jersey Outdoor Alliance helping to represent the state’s 1.2 million sportsmen in the political arena.
Follow NRA Hunters’ Leadership Forum on Twitter @HuntersLead.
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