Senator Steven Oroho, Assemblyman Parker Space and Assemblyman Hal Wirths (all R-24) say an early evening bear attack in Sussex County this week that landed a local resident in the hospital underscores the risks created by Governor Phil Murphy’s decision to halt bear hunting in the state.
Sen. Steven Oroho, Asm. Parker Space and Asm. Hal Wirths say an early evening bear attack in Sussex County this week that landed a local resident in the hospital underscores the risks created by Governor Phil Murphy’s decision to halt bear hunting in the state. (Youtube)
“Without a responsible hunting policy, the bear population is exploding,” said Senator Oroho. “Regretfully, that will mean we will continue to see more dangerous interactions like yesterday’s attack. This latest incident was a close call that could have been much worse, and it is inevitable that more residents will encounter dangerous situations if Murphy doesn’t re-evaluate his reckless position.”
Oroho noted that state experts at the New Jersey Fish and Game Council signed off on an “emergency” bear hunt to control the exploding population in September, but the order required the signature of Murphy’s Department of Environmental Protection commissioner. DEP Commissioner Shawn LaTourette rejected the Council’s position and sided with Murphy and the hunt remains suspended.
“The Administration’s politically motivated policy is irresponsible, dangerous and unnecessary,” Oroho added. “The experts know best, and they should be the ones designing a sustainable bear management policy for New Jersey.”
The latest attack happened Wednesday in Lafayette when a 34-year-old resident on the way to her mailbox encountered three bears and was attacked by a younger cub weighing an estimated 150 to 200 pounds.
In January, an 81-year-old Sussex County woman was attacked by a bear and her pet dog was killed, and a second dog was killed weeks later.
“Bears have no natural predators, and without hunting, the number of bears will continue to multiply unchecked,” said Assemblyman Space. “Until Murphy interfered, controlled hunts have been successful, ensuring a stable, well-managed bear population. It is obvious the current strategy is a failure, and I fear that if common sense doesn’t prevail soon, there could be even greater disastrous consequences.”
New Jersey is the nation’s most densely populated state, and with an estimated 5,000 bears, the state also boasts the densest black bear population. Black bears will wander in search of food, and increasing numbers are forcing them to search closer to homes, leading to more contact with people.
“We have too many bears in close proximity to busy neighborhoods. That is a formula for trouble,” said Assemblyman Wirths. “The governor’s stubbornness is putting lives in peril for nothing more than political promises to favored constituencies. Public safety is at increasing risk without a safe hunt to control the bears in our state.”