In 2003, New Jersey state officials decided to bring back managed bear hunting after it had been banned in the state for three decades.

Proponents of resuming bear hunting portrayed this disturbing practice as a necessary step in controlling the state’s bear population and limiting human-bear encounters.

Under this same faulty reasoning, then-Governor Chris Christie established an annual organized bear hunt in New Jersey in 2010. Since then, hundreds of bears have been legally culled each year in the state. In 2017 alone, 409 bears died at the hands of hunters, all under the guise of a “pest control method” which, in reality, hasn’t been proven to solve the issue of bear overpopulation in any way, shape or form.

Recognizing that bear hunting is cruel and unjustifiable, current New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy recently announced a ban on bear hunts on state land, something which he pledged to do during his campaign. Effective immediately, killing bears will no longer be allowed in any of New Jersey’s state parks, state forests or recreation areas.

As Jeff Tittel, director of the New Jersey Sierra Club, reportedly stated, Murphy’s recent executive order is the “first real step we’ve had in a long time to limit the unnecessary bear hunt.”

Indeed, it is a great stride towards protecting New Jersey’s bears, but there is still work to be done. After all, Murphy does not have the authority needed to outlaw bear hunting on privately-owned lands, leaving around one million acres on which the animals can still legally be killed in New Jersey.

In hopes of getting bear hunting outlawed throughout the entire state, Governor Murphy is urging other government officials to act. As he reportedly said in a statement, “I am also calling on the Legislature to take action on this critical issue.” He went on, “My first concern has always been public safety and before we authorize another hunt, we should review all non-lethal options.”

We totally agree with Murphy that New Jersey (and other U.S. states) should try out the many effective, humane options for solving animal population issues and preventing conflicts between critters and humans before resorting to managed hunting. By implementing such solutions across the nation rather than allowing people to slaughter living creatures for sport, we can live in harmony with wild animals.

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