Phil Murphy, the Democrat Governor of New Jersey has chosen to reverse course on his previous position regarding bear hunting much to the chagrin of animal rights activist groups.
When Murphy was first running for office back in 2017, he was running on a platform going against bear hunting for the state and vowed to get rid of the practice. He made good on this promise, but now he seems to be reversing course, he is making the choice to bring back the hunt due to the rising bear population throughout the state and the climbing number of highly dangerous encounters with the large predators.
Murphy put his pen to an executive order from 2018 that put a stop to the hunting of bears on any government property. The politician highlighted at that time that in order to wholesale block the practice, action from the New Jersey Fish and Game Council would need to be carried out. Earlier this past month, Murphy claimed that he was planning to toss out his 2018 order because of increasing concerns for the safety of his citizens.
The New Jersey Fish and Game Council carried out a unanimous vote in favor of bringing back legal bear hunting in the wake of Murphy stating that he had to reinstate it. After they did so, Murphy agreed and tossed out the order from 2018. The council also looked into and approved the changes to the Game Code when speaking about the bear season in the state.
“The facts on the ground have shown that we cannot rely on nonlethal methods alone to protect New Jersey residents from a growing black bear population,” stated Governor Murphy this month. “Today’s actions will facilitate the reinstatement of a regulated black bear hunt this year to help limit dangerous interactions between people and bears to protect public safety.”
The Department of Environmental Protection for the state explained the issues for public safety in regard to bears in the state. The department highlighted that the DEP was given a “237% increase in bear damage and nuisance reports” from the start of the year until the 21 of October when comparing it to the same time frame the year prior.
The department stated that there had been a total of 84 property damage incidents that were given to the agency, 62 aggressive encounters, 129 vehicle strikes, 433 sightings, and 15 attempted home entries.
The overall bear population has climbed by over 3,000 within the state. Regular hunts previously kept the number of bears much closer to 1,500, explained a former worker at the state’s Division of Fish and Wildlife, Ed Markowski, to Wall Street Journal.