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Bigger and longer N.J. bear hunt? Will cover more territory and could add days


Councilmen Mike Sendon could not be reached for comment

DECEMBER 4, 2015, 2:48 PM    LAST UPDATED: FRIDAY, DECEMBER 4, 2015, 11:38 PM

The expanded black bear hunt that begins on Monday will cover more ground than ever before with a greater focus on rooting out so-called urban bears that feed off trash cans in suburban areas.

But a battle of wills still rages between hunt advocates and opponents who say that nuisance bears can be managed more humanely with stricter enforcement of garbage-can laws and more public education.

This year, the will of the hunters has an edge, as the state Supreme Court on Friday ruled in favor of allowing the hunt to begin as planned.

Related:   Expanded bear hunt to begin next week, include parts of Wayne, Bloomingdale, Pequannock

The new bear hunt rules not only expand the terrain in which hunters can stalk bears, but also allow the state Division of Fish and Wildlife to extend the six-day hunt by four days if hunters don’t reduce the bear population by 20 percent.

The state’s newly adopted black bear management policy expanded the hunting area beyond the traditional boundaries of Route 287 and Route 78, in play since 2003. It opened up more densely populated suburban towns to bear hunting, including the west side of Wayne, Pompton Lakes, Wana­que, Oakland, Pequannock, Lincoln Park and Madison. The bear hunt is spread over eight counties and more than 1,000 square miles, touching as far south as Mercer County.

New Jersey has 3,500 black bears, according to state estimates. Bears have been spotted in all 21 counties.

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