Black Bear Hunting
North American Bears
Types of Bears
Types of Animals
New Jersey's success in reviving its black bear population during the last half of the twentieth century introduced new black bear problems for the twenty-first century.
Increased bear populations, coupled with increased human populations, translated into increased human-bear contacts. While black bears are not inherently aggressive toward humans, their status as wild animals means that any type of human-bear contact introduces an element of danger, to both humans and bears (depending on the situation).
During the past decade, black bear management in the Garden State reached the forefront of public debate, with participants assuming one of two general points of view.
Wildlife advocates, including the Humane Society and the BEAR Group support non-lethal management practices such as public education and the use of bear proof trash cans.
Hunting advocates support an annual black bear hunt.
As the facts stand today, both sides have partially prevailed.
Twice in the past decade the hunters prevailed. The New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife reports in 2003, 328 bears were killed, taken or harvested (depending on the words anyone may want to use) and in 2005 298 bears were killed, taken or harvested.
Calls for a new seasonal hunt are being proffered based on claims of increased reporting of bear incidents. Unofficial statistics reported by some members of the New Jersey Legislature state, "Calls to the DEP about bears are up 96.7 percent from January 1, 2008 to October 22, 2008, when compared with the same time period in 2007. Damage and nuisance complaints have risen from 896 in 2007 to 1845 in 2008."
Supporters of non-lethal bear management claim that the introduction of bear proof trash cans and public education, not a hunting program, reduces human-bear contact.
An effective bear contraception program would provide another tool for advocates of non-lethal management. However, the current status of bear fertility research suggests that the debate over black bear hunting in New Jersey will continue into the future.Florida Black Bears (Ursus americanus floridanus), protected since 1974, may soon lose their protective status.
Historically, Florida's native black bears, a sub-species of the American Black bear (Ursus americanus) sat at the top of Florida's food chain. At one time, scientists estimate that approximately 12,000 individuals roamed the peninsula.
The coming of man changed the traditional Floridian food chain, and as human populations expanded, their run ins with the bears led to consistent decreases in bear populations.
In the immediate Post-WWII era, scientists estimated the Florida Black Bear population at around the 500 level. An increase in environmental awareness around the United States during the late 1960s and early 1970s led to animal protection measures across the country, including Florida.
Due partly to the protections afforded to black bears, such as the end of the hunting season, Florida Black Bear populations have somewhat recovered. The Nature Conservancy estimates the current population to be between 2,500 and 3,000 individuals, located in eight isolated regions.
Increased development around the peninsula continues to squeeze the bears into smaller territories. When hunger calls, as it is want to do with all bears, Florida's bears have tended to stray from their now confined corners into residential areas looking for a meal.
It's no surprise then, that Floridian sightings of native bears continues on the upswing.
Recently the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission reviewed the status of Florida's native threatened and endangered species. The Commission report concluded that, "The BSR preliminary findings indicate the Florida black bear does not meet the criteria for listing as a state imperiled species.".
News stories continue to circulate that once removed from the state listing, the state would reinstate a bear hunting season.
© 2009-2012 Patricia A. Michaels