Required four-day extension of black bear hunting season begins Dec. 14
NEW JERSEY – The Department of Environmental Protection’s New Jersey Fish and Wildlife Monday announced that the December black bear hunting season will be extended by four days this week per state regulations.
The season extension will begin a half-hour prior to sunrise on Wednesday, Dec. 14 and will end a half-hour after sunset on Saturday, Dec. 17.
New Jersey’s Game Code requires an extension of up to four days should a minimum goal of 20 percent of the bears tagged this year not be reached by the scheduled close of the regular season. Since the cumulative rate did not reach 20 percent by the end of the hunt on Saturday, December 10, the season must be extended. The number of tagged bears harvested at the close of the regular season was 11 for a harvest rate of 6 percent.
Hunters are reminded of the following important changes now in place as part of emergency rulemaking adopted last month reinstating the hunting season:
- Hunters may not attempt to take or kill a black bear weighing less than 75 pounds (live weight), or less than 50 pounds dressed.
- Hunters may not attempt to take or kill an adult black bear that is in the presence of cub(s) (bears weighing less than 75 pounds).
- Hunters may not attempt to take or kill a black bear or have a loaded weapon within 300 feet of a baited area when hunting bears.
The state’s bear hunting regulations call for the mandatory closure of the season once the cumulative rate of tagged bears brought to check stations reaches 30 percent.
The bear hunting zones include all of Sussex, Warren, Morris, and Hunterdon counties, as well as portions of Passaic, Somerset, Bergen, and Mercer counties. Northwestern New Jersey has one of the densest populations of black bears in the nation, a situation that has forced bears to expand territory into more populated areas of the state and increases the risk of bear encounters with people and damage to property.
From January through October this year there was a rise in black bear damage and nuisance reports of 237 percent compared to the same time period in 2021. These incidents included aggressive encounters with humans, instances of property damage, and attacks on both livestock and pets.
New Jersey Fish and Wildlife utilizes the number of bears it has tagged during the year as the scientific basis for making determinations for attaining harvest objectives. Wildlife biologists affix tags to bears whenever an animal is handled for research purposes or when captured in response to a nuisance complaint. This process allows wildlife experts to conduct the harvest with the best science and data available.
For more information, visit NJ Fish and Wildlife’s Bear Hunting Season Information and the 2022 Black Bear Management FAQs.