New Jersey's first black bear hunt in five years is underway. The state's Department of Environmental Protection says the hunt is part of a larger plan -- which includes public education, research and waste management -- to reduce the growing bear population and the number of complaints against them.
But Angie Metler, with the Animal Protection League of New Jersey, said killing bears won't solve any problems. "In Pennsylvania, just across the Delaware River, they've had record kills of bears in the last six out of seven years. The bear complaints are continuously rising, and the bear population is rising," she said.
Metler believes non-lethal measures like waste management are the answer. "Nationwide, studies have shown that non-lethal black bear management is the only solution that works in reducing bear complaints," she said.
The Animal Protection League of New Jersey and the Bear Education and Resource Group have filed a lawsuit to stop the hunt. The group was denied a temporary restraining order last week. An immediate appeal to the state Supreme Court is still pending.
According to the state DEP, the black bear population in northern New Jersey alone has grown to about 35,000 -- and the number of bear complaints exceeded 3,000 last year.