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post #1 of 2 (permalink) Old 12-11-2019, 10:12 AM Thread Starter
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NJ Bear Season


FREDON - Sheltered in patrol vehicles on one side of the road were the troopers and conservation officers; sitting in their cars on the other side, a small group of bear hunt protesters.

However, no bears were checked in by early afternoon at the Whittingham Wildlife Management Area on the first day of the shotgun bear season.

The hunt opened just before sunrise with dense fog in some areas and all state land closed to bear hunting. By late morning, the fog had not lifted and a steady rain began to fall.

The protesters who converge at the Whittingham station were sparse this year. The big protest, which had been held on opening day in past years, is planned for Saturday, the final day of the shotgun season.

However, present was a compliment of conservation officers, brought in from other regions of the state, as well as a small assignment of state police, in the driveway used by hunters to bring their harvest to be weighed and biological samples taken.

Earlier in the day, check station technicians at the Flatbrook-Roy WMA said they had not had any bears brought to that station, which is only open the first and last day of the six-day shotgun season.

A state conservation lieutenant at the check station said he had seen some activity in the morning, but expected as the rain developed, activity would cease.

He said there had been no reported incidents involving the hunt.

The weather forecast for much of the northwestern part of New Jersey where bear hunting is allowed, called for rain all day Monday and most of the day Tuesday, ending with snow on Wednesday.

Thursday and Friday are forecast to be sunny, with temperatures below freezing on Thursday and in the mid-30s on Friday. There is a chance of rain or freezing rain again on Saturday.

Among the protesters at Whittingham on Monday was Bill Crain, who has been present, and arrested, on opening day of several past hunts. Crain has spent time in county jail because of his protests.

Anti-hunting groups have made a point of protesting New Jersey’s bear hunts and going to court since the Fish and Game Council reopened a bear hunt in 2003. A second hunt was held in 2005, but the 2006 hunt was stopped by the state Supreme Court which ruled that the state needed to have an approved management plan in place on which the council could then point to as a reason for hunting bears in the northwestern part of the state.

Such a plan was not approved until 2010 when then-Gov. Chris Christie allowed a five-year plan to be signed by the Department of Environmental Protection commissioner.

That plan called for a six-day shotgun bear hunt to be held at the same time as the annual shotgun deer season in early December. An updated plan was signed in 2015 which expanded the bear hunt to a six-day archery hunt in October.

In 2018, Gov. Phil Murphy ordered that all state parks, forests and wildlife management areas, be closed to bear hunting. A lawsuit challenging that order is pending before the state Supreme Court.

Also on Monday, the Pennsylvania Game Commission released preliminary figures for the first parts of its bear hunt, which have already set a state record for a black bear harvest. That state’s hunt continues through Saturday on some of the state’s Wildlife Management Units,

“As of this morning, the 2019 preliminary bear harvest sat at 4,577,”. the commission’s news release said. “The Commonwealth’s previous record bear harvest occurred in 2011, when hunters took 4,350 through a slate of bear seasons.”

This year, the state expanded bear season from 16 days to 32 days, including both archery and gun seasons and included seven Saturdays on which to hunt instead of three Saturdays as in past years.

“The additional days and increased number of bear hunters appear to have made a significant difference. Great weather on peak hunting days also helped,” the release said.
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post #2 of 2 (permalink) Old 12-11-2019, 10:13 AM Thread Starter
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Clear roads open more park to hunters

WALPACK - Access to much of the southern part of the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area has been reopened, although in a round-about way, as park crews have cleared trees pushed down across roads by last week’s storm.

With some more roads open, hunters will have available more public lands as the annual shotgun black bear season moves into its third day today.

With Gov. Phil Murphy continuing with his ban on bear hunting on state parks, forests and wildlife management areas, the 70,000 acres of the park was the only large tract of public land available in Sussex and Warren counties and open to bear hunters.

And following last week’s ice and snow storm, most of the roads in the southern part of the park were blocked by fallen trees. Although not closed to hunting, vehicles could not get to the area since roads such as Blue Mountain Lake Road were impassable.

Reduced access, and foggy, rainy weather on opening day, resulted in just three bears brought to official weigh stations. Two bears were taken in Sussex County, according to the Division of Fish and Wildlife, and the third in Warren County.

All were taken in Zone 1, the section generally west of Routes 519, 521 and 94, which includes all of the recreation area. As part of the check-in process, a hunter is asked to give an approximate location where the bear was killed on a map. The data on where any one bear was taken is not part of the annual report produced for the Fish and Game Council.

Last year on opening day of the shotgun season, 16 bears were harvested on opening day, when the weather was also damp, but with no snow on the ground and temperatures in the upper 40s.

In 2015, the last year before an October archery bear hunt was instituted, 216 bears were killed on opening day. There were 510 bears killed in that season which was extended to 10 days.

On Tuesday, park officials said that Blue Mountain Lake Road was reopened, but that Route 615, between the Flatbrook Bridge and Pompey Road, and Route 602 from Millbrook Village to the park boundary, were still closed.

Park officials said trees are still down across power lines in the area which can only be moved by electric company crews.

Also closed are Jagger Road in northern Sandyston, and Mountain Road which runs past Buttermilk Falls in Walpack.

Access to Blue Mountain Lake Road is only by going north on Old Mine Road from “Three Minute Light” at Interstate 80.

On the Pennsylvania side of the park, River Road, between park headquarters and Hialeah picnic area, is still closed because of trees on power lines.
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