NJ “Comprehensive Black Bear Management Plan” was approved by Gov. Murphy

trailcam bear volkolak

You can get all the details on the NJ DEP website but there are so many things wrenching my guts about all of this. It was a political game and the actions were never about the bears. I was thankful when Gov. Murphy stopped the bear hunt on public lands; I was still pissed about the laws because private lands were allowed to be hunting locations. Allow me to remind you that the permit for this is $2 so when gun advocates talk about all kinds of money going towards conservation, they’re full of shit. Resident hunting licenses are only $27.50.

All the quotes here come from today’s DEP site unless noted.

Disclaimer: I’m never talking about when property, people, pets, or livestock are in harm’s way. You should have the right to protect them.

upright walking bear through a yard
GIF of Pedals made from NJ.com footage

Under Gov. Christie, our black bear population was decimated. Thousands of bears were slaughtered. One of them was a beloved disabled bear named Pedals. I’ve written about Pedals and other bears a lot but in case you’re new here, do yourself a favor and look up Pedals the Bipedal Bear on YouTube. Pedals lived in upper New Jersey roaming and making a good life for theirself around Rockaway and Denville. Long story short – a hunter killed Pedals during one of Christie’s bear hunts. The hunter’s name was kept private because the DEP and F&W knew that people would terrorize that hunter. Who the fuck targets a disabled bear? This was not a suffering animal either; I would understand euthanasia, but this bear lived for years walking on hind legs and finding food and shelter. People LOVED this bear enough to name them Pedals.

I was so distraught at the news of Pedals’ murder that I wrote Bear Roots, a magical realism based story involving folklore, politics, and racism. Ursula Applegate is the main character and she’s a black bisexual woman living in a fictitious town a lot like the suburbs found here. Ursula learns that her friends are volkolaks, human-bear shapeshifters. With the bear hunt on the schedule, she fears for their lives.

I’ve made BEAR ROOTS free on Kindle from Nov 15-19, 2022 in honor of Pedals and all the bears that have lost their lives to these hunts and all those that are now in danger.

There are changes to the hunting regulations:

  • Hunters may NOT attempt to take or kill a black bear weighing less than 75 pounds (live weight), or less than 50 pounds dressed.
  • Hunters may NOT attempt to take or kill an adult black bear that is in the presence of cub(s) (bears weighing less than 75 pounds).
  • Hunters may NOT attempt to take or kill a black bear or have a loaded weapon within 300 ft. of a baited area when hunting bears.

Do you know how big or small 75 pounds is?

Let me paint a picture. A bear cub would have to be tiny for a black bear. It might look “big enough” but here are some dogs that average 75 pounds:

A golden retriever of this size would be about 24 inches tall. In bear terms, that is still a baby who follows its mother around. It would be learning how to do things for itself and still playing with siblings. Mom would never be too far away. Even if you see a cub that size alone, it’s learning. It’s basically figuring out the world: learning to navigate the woods, crossing streets, following scents for food.

bear volkolak cub

The State of New Jersey is looking to slaughter 30% of its black bear population. Mind you, bears don’t give a fuck about your state lines.

Hunting Season on NJ Bears:

  • December 5 -10, 2022 (Segment B), Shotgun/Muzzleloader ONLY.
  • If the harvest rate does not reach 20% during this period, the hunt will be extended to Wednesday, December 14th through Saturday, December 17th, 2022.

“Allowable hunting methods: stand hunting, still hunting, or drive hunting.”

Drive Hunting. There’s a phrase that pisses me off to no end. Picture yahoos in pickup trucks with spotlights chasing down animals. This is almost as horrific as the helicopter shooting parties of wolves (yep, that’s a thing that Montana outlawed only this year); oh and in Texas this is how they boar hunt too.

The only good change which was instituted years ago after a lot of pressure from wildlife conservation groups is:

  • It is illegal to take or attempt to take a bear in a den structure.

black bear mother and cubs

When was in my 20s, I was still scared to death of bears. I had only seen a couple in the wild. I was also concerned for our barn cats, but they were wonderfully athletic and survived longer than any of our spoiled indoor cats. I didn’t need to be so anxious about them when a bear came in the yard. But I was new to this whole suburban thing. I had lived here ten years but bears were rare to see (so were cars and ride-on lawn tractors; and leaf blowers hadn’t been invented yet).

“A total of 11,000 black bear hunting permits, allocated by bear management zone, will be available to properly licensed hunters and farmer hunters.”

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