The argument against well-regulated hunting of wild game is almost always an emotional one, with no basis in science of any kind.
Such is the case in New Jersey, where newly anointed Governor Phil Murphy is planning on forever ending the practice of sport-hunting for bears within the Garden State. This move comes not from any ecological data or environmental study prompting him to do so. In fact, the Department of Fish and Wildlife in the state has suggested that Murphy do the opposite, as bears in the state have no natural predators, and will likely balloon in population without the annual culling of the creatures.
Neighboring Pennsylvania has had a long and storied history of bear hunts, exacerbated by the state’s wild and rural mass, and the hunters of the Keystone State are in no way ready to give up their grand tradition anytime soon.
To mitigate the possibility of New Jerseys’ foolhardy whims spreading, officials within Pennsylvania’s wildlife management industries are spreading the word on what could happen if the bears between Philly and Pittsburgh were allowed to roam the state unfettered by man.
“Mark Ternent, the Pennsylvania Game Commission’s chief bear biologist, graciously agreed to play along with my hypothetical line of questioning about the potential impacts of a bear hunting ban on our state.
“He didn’t paint a pretty picture.
“Even with annual hunting – hunters tagged 3,403 bruins in 2017 – Pennsylvania’s bear population has grown from 4,000 animals in 1980, to about 20,000 today.
“’During the peak of population growth, bear numbers were growing eight percent annually,’ Ternent said. ‘This occurred while we were removing 18-20 percent of the population annually through hunting.’
“Without bear hunting, ‘even for a short period, population growth much greater than eight percent would be likely, and we would quickly have more than 20,000 bears in the state,’ he said.”
Those are some impressive numbers, thanks to the extremely resilient nature of these prized creatures.
Yet that’s only the effect on the population. What about daily life in the state?
“’Human-bear conflicts would likely increase,’ he said. ‘And there are a host of possible consequences from having more conflicts. Agency resources devoted to conflict response would increase, thereby diverting time and money from other activities.’
“’Bears shot by frustrated homeowners would increase, vehicle collisions would increase, property damage, including depredation of agricultural crops, would increase, and sightings of bears in non-traditional areas, including suburban or developed landscapes, would increase.’”
And this is in a state several orders of magnitude larger than the mostly urban New Jersey.
In other words, New Jersey and their citizens will soon be in dire need of reading our previous article regarding the best deterrent for bears.