Hunters Killed 267 Bears in 6 Days in New Jersey

Wet weather and dwindling bear numbers did not stop hunters from killing more bears than expected in the controversial six-day New Jersey hunt.

Hunters killed 267 bears over six days in New Jersey, the state’s Division of Fish & Wildlife reported. The number of bears killed — at 267, that’s about one bear death for every 33,330 New Jersey residents — was more than the state predicted. The hunt began on December 8th and ended Saturday.

The controversial hunt is intended as bear population control. There were an estimated 3,400 bears in New Jersey in 2010; after five years of bear hunts, the bear population had fallen to about 2,500 before this year’s hunt. Protesters have picketed and signed petitions in an attempt to stop the now-annual hunt.

“But reports of aggressive bears have risen this year,” the Associated Press reports. Earlier this year, a Rutgers student was mauled to death by a bear. This gives ammunition to both sides: Advocates say that shows the bear hunt is needed, activists say it shows the bear hunt isn’t working.

Since the hunt began, the state says there are about 100 fewer category 1, or aggressive, bears. (The bear rating system operates the opposite of that of tornadoes, it seems). Hunters come from all over the country to kill bears.

“When you see that big black blob coming through the woods I mean it…really gets your heart beating,” an Ohio resident, the first to kill a bear this year, told WFMZ. “I was just fortunate enough to get a good clean ethical shot; and that is what we all want.”

[NJDFW via AP]