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The bare necessities about Monday's hunt

The bare necessities about Monday's hunt
12/2/2005, 4:09 p.m. ET
The Associated Press

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — Hunters from around New Jersey and the region are expected to converge Monday in the northwest part of the state to hunt for black bears.

The hunt was approved by the state Department of Environmental Protection as a way to thin the bears' numbers. Black bears were once almost extinct in the Garden State, but since the 1970s have made a rebound.

Here are questions and answers about the bear hunt:

Q. Who gets to hunt?

A. Hunters must have a valid New Jersey hunting license and a bear hunt permit, for which they have to take a special course. The deadline to apply for the permit was Oct. 30. More than 4,000 people applied for licenses. Hunters who took the course during the 2003 bear hunt, the last time New Jersey held a hunt, are not required to retake it. Those hunters have until Saturday to apply for a permit for this year's hunt. Bear hunting permits are free although hunters have to pay for their licenses.

Q. What does the course cover?

A. Since New Jersey doesn't have a bear hunt every year and bear hunts are different from deer hunts, state officials decided to give a three-hour course to hunters. The course covers issues such how to shoot a bear so it dies quickly, and how to get a dead bear out of the woods. The course also teaches hunters about bear biology, the state's bear management plan, and reminds them about ethical and safety issues in hunting.

Q. A hunter kills a bear. What next?

A. Well, hopefully the hunter has friends who will help get the bear out of the woods. Black bears can weigh as much as 600 pounds. Hunters have a few options once a bear is killed. They can carry it out in one piece. Or they can cut it into smaller, more manageable sections. And they can take out the bear's innards, bury them and then move the now-lighter bear. Every dead bruin must be taken to a checkpoint run by the state, where officials will take data like the bear's weight and blood samples that will be used for research. Officials also are looking for dead bears who were tagged previously during their life as part of research projects or if they were relocated.

Q. How many hunters are expected to take part?

A. The Division of Fish & Wildlife was prepared to issue permits to a maximum of 10,000 hunters. But far less are expected. Officials estimate 5,000 hunters will take part in the hunt.

Q. Is there a quota of bears to be killed?

A. No. Each night state officials will analyze the data collected from the bear hunt. If they feel enough bears have been killed, they can stop the hunt early. They cannot go over the six days allocated. During the 2003 hunt, 328 bears were killed.

Q. How many bears can a hunter bag?

A. One bear can be killed for each permit, and hunters can only get one permit.

Q. What weapons are allowed?

A. Only shotguns and rifles are allowed_ no bow and arrow hunting. Shotguns must be between 10-gauge and 20-gauge, and can't use buckshot. Only single-shot, single-barrel, muzzle-loaded rifles using shells .45-caliber or larger are allowed.

Q. Are all bears fair game?

A. Yes. The idea behind having the hunt in early winter is that females with cubs will already be in their dens for a long winter's nap.

Q. Where can hunters go?

A. The hunt will take place in designated areas north of I-78 and west of I-287. That roughly 1,600 square mile territory is broken into four zones. Hunters have to get a permit for the particular zone in which they want to hunt. Hunting is allowed on public property like the Delaware Water Gap Recreational Area. Bears on private property are fair game as well, as long as the hunter has permission from the land owner. There's a safety zone of 450 feet from all dwellings in which people cannot hunt.

Q. How long does the hunt last?

A. The hunt is scheduled to go from Dec. 6-11. Hunters can start a half-hour before sunrise and must end a half-hour after sunset.


Sources: Martin J. McHugh, director of the Division of Fish and Wildlife; New Jersey's "Comprehensive Black Bear Management Policy," and the Department of Environmental Protection.

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