The NJDEP Division of Fish and Wildlife has released the final results of the 2010 Black Bear Hunting Season, held December 6-11, 2010. The season was held concurrently with the 6-Day Firearm Deer Season and was open in the area north of Rt. I-78 and west of Rt. I-287. The hunting season resulted in a total legal harvest of 592 black bears.
The season is one component of the state’s Comprehensive Black Bear Management Policy, along with education, a bear feeding ban, aversive conditioning and other strategies. Hunters are required to check in harvested bears which provides a sample for population estimation purposes.
During 2010, division biologists and technicians tagged 333 bears in preparation for the season, of which 299 were available for harvest prior to the season opening. Fifty-four (54) of these bears were harvested. Using this data, the population was estimated to be approximately 3,278 in the area open to hunting, a figure very close (less than 4.8% difference) to the previously determined estimate (3,438) based on the East Stroudsburg University DNA study. These two estimates are very similar; the difference can be attributed to the different methods used to calculate the population estimates.
Harvested bears included those known to have been causing damage and nuisance. Of the 118 tagged bears harvested, twenty-four (24), or 20%, were known nuisance bears or bears tagged at nuisance sites, including two which had previously denned under residents’ decks. The tag returns of harvested bears suggest that 20% of the harvest was nuisance bears.
Bears were harvested in 5 of the 7 counties open to black bear hunting. Sussex County led the harvest with a total of 338 bears, followed by 112 bears in Warren County, 59 bears in Passaic County, 82 bears in Morris County, and 1 bear in Bergen County. These results were expected by Division biologists, based on land area and bear density.
Hunters recorded bear harvests in 46 of the 105 municipalities open to black bear hunting, with West Milford Township, Passaic County, tallying the highest with 54 bears taken, followed by Vernon Township (50) and Walpack Township (50), both in Sussex County. Of the bears harvested, 243 (41%) were taken on private property, 233 (39%) on state property, 92 (16%) on federal property and 24 (4%) on county or municipal land.
Males made up 40% of the harvest (239) and females comprised 60% of the harvest (353), which is the same male/female ratio of the population observed through the research and control activities of division biologists.
The average field dressed weight of females over 1 year old was 179 pounds, with a range of 86 to 410 pounds. The average field dressed weight of male bears over 1 year old was 257 pounds with a range of 114 to 651 pounds. The largest adult male had an estimated live weight of over 750 pounds (651 pounds dressed) and was taken in Montville Township, Morris County.
No hunting accidents were reported during the season. The 2011 black bear hunting season is again scheduled concurrently with the Six-day Firearm Deer Season, December 5-10.
For more information on New Jersey’s black bears, including tips on avoiding conflicts with bears, visit http://www.njfishandwildlife.com/bearfacts.htm on the division’s website.