Republican lawmakers in the 24th district raised alarms over news that this season’s bear hunt would be the last under Gov. Phil Murphy’s administration.
“Throughout this pandemic, Governor Murphy has preached about following the science, yet in this instance he is blindly obeying his version of political science while potentially jeopardizing the public safety of New Jerseyans,” State Sen. Steve Oroho (R-Franklin) said. “A Rutgers student was mauled to death by a black bear and an elderly man was recently attached in his garage, leaving him with more than 30 stitches.”
The student was killed in 2014. The 82-year-old was mauled in August in the only Garden State bear attack this year.
Murphy on Monday announced the state would suspend the bear hunt and explore non-lethal means to control its black bear population at the end of this year’s hunting season.
“This is a self-serving attempt to placate extremists while increasing the likelihood of a dangerous encounter with a bear,” Assemblyman Parker Space (R-Wantage) said. “Once again, Murphy is more concerned about politics. Hunts effectively controlled the bear population since 2010, and reports of nuisance and damage were cut in half during that time.”
The state’s bear hunt, long opposed by conservationists and animal rights activists, has been scaled down significantly under Murphy. In 2018, the governor issued an executive order that barred bear hunters from acting on state lands.
He campaigned in part on ending the bear hunt.
“There are too many bears for the environment to support, so they wander out of the woods and into neighborhoods in search of food and shelter,” Assemblyman Hal Wirths (R-Wantage) said. “There is nothing humane about bears starving in the wild. It is a recipe for disaster that can be mitigated with responsible hunting controls.”