Montclair Activists Oppose Gov. Murphy’s Controversial Move to Allow Bear Hunt

The most recent black bear to visit Montclair was in May 2022. The bear was safely removed by New Jersey Fish and Wildlife, assisted by Montclair Animal Control and Montclair Police.

Montclair, NJ – It’s not exactly bear country, but Montclair has had its share of bear sightings over the years, most recently in May 2022, when a bear was safely removed from Union Street after a morning of roaming through backyards near the library with no harm to the bear.

Gov. Phil Murphy made news recently when he announced a decision to again allow hunters to shoot bears, reversing a pledge he had made to end the hunts.

“Every community deserves to feel safe. While I committed to end the bear hunt, the data is clear. Our black bear population is growing,” said Murphy. “We must change course to prevent tragic bear-human interactions by reinstating a regulated black bear hunt in December.”

The hunt was suspended on state lands in 2018 to provide an opportunity to evaluate the feasibility of exclusively using non-lethal measures to maintain the population in a manner that is protective of the public’s safety. With the expiration of the Comprehensive Black Bear Management Plan in 2021, no bear hunting has taken place on any lands in New Jersey since 2020.

Discussion of the change took place at a Fish and Game Council meeting in Trenton on Tuesday. Humane Montclair founder Annette Batson spoke out, calling the decision “a tyrannical response to a fabricated problem.”

The first hunt is expected to take place December 5-10. If the 20% population harvest target is not reached, the season will be extended to the following week, December 14 through December 17. Bear hunting will be permitted on state and private lands within designated bear hunting zones.

Dr. Julie-O’Connor, Animal Protection League of New Jersey; Karen Sacks, Friends Of Montclair Animal Shelter; Caroline Bonfield, NJHPVL for the Humane Society of the United States; Annette Batson, Humane Montclaur founder; Brian Hackett of the Animal League Defense Fund; and Elissa Frank, Humane Society of New Jersey in Trenton Tuesday.

To take action in support of New Jersey black bears:

* Call the Governor’s office at 609-292-6000 and express your opposition to the black bear hunt. You can also submit written comment here.

* Call your New Jersey legislators— both your senator and your Assembly members— and ask them to sign onto A.1967/S.1891. This is Bear Smart legislation which has overwhelming bipartisan support with 28 sponsors and would do some of the actions which the Governor has failed to implement.

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  1. It’d be nice if there could be a hunt for deer in the reservations and some kind of capture and cull program for areas outside. What is going on with deer in our towns is outrageous! There are far too many and their only predators are cars. It’s going to take a real tragedy to wake people up to how dangerous this is.

  2. We could import Black bears to Montclair. They would gladly thin the deer herd and make the anti-hunt crowd happy. Kill two birds with one stone…plus a few pets and small children.

  3. Silly boys, you didn’t address the obvious solution. Hint: what is the purpose of having any bears & deer in these parts, in these modern times?
    It would be safer, cost effective and just darn practical to eradicate bears…and deer, too. They are just some “oops, my bad” species Mother Nature cooked up and didn’t foresee us decimating all the habitats of her creatures.

    The ONLY reason we have them around now is for hunting. OK, grab a couple of dozen and sell hunting licenses at market rates, not subsidized at prices less than an event at the Wellmont Theater. Maybe grab a handful and put in Turtle Back Zoo or similar natural displays…for the kiddies.

    Other than that, what is the reason against us just eradicating them? Wouldn’t it be more humane? (I’m using the Western Civilization definition of humane)

  4. What our slimy Governor’s press release didn’t mention is that this order is valid for only 60 days. Our slimy Governor Murphy will file a request on 12/19 to make the bear management program permanent. Then there is only a 30 day clock to comment.

    The really good news is you can drop your spouse off at Short Hills Mall to shop while you can go next door to Chatham and just shoot your bears for $2 license fee. Suburban life doesn’t get much better than this. And our Governors definitely don’t get any better than this.

  5. By the Governor’s staff’s count, there are 3,000+ bears concentrated in 4 Northwestern counties. The Governor’s plan is to kill 3,000 bears within 5 years. Basically, he set the amount so that he can maintain hunting revenue levels. Smart. Very smart.

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