NJ gov would considering cutting bear hunt short

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) - December 7, 2010 State wildlife officials say the hunt is needed to reduce a black bear population now thought to number about 3,400.

At a news conference in East Rutherford on Tuesday, Christie said his decision to allow the bear hunt was science-based, not philosophical.

Christie said he does not personally hunt.

Former Democratic Gov. Richard Codey, who was standing nearby, quipped that Christie "likes to hunt Democrats."

264 bears taken during first day of hunt

New Jersey's burgeoning black bear population was reduced by 264 Monday on the first day of the state's first bear hunt since 2005, officials said.

Department of Environmental Protection spokesman Larry Ragonese said that by noon, hunters had taken a mix of males, females and cubs weighing between 140 and 360 pounds. The largest was a 367-pound male taken by a Sussex County hunter. The first was a 2-year-old male shot by a Lyndhurst police officer.

The six-day hunt started before sunrise. Wildlife officials have incorporated an annual hunt into their bear management plan, insisting that a hunt is needed to reduce a black bear population now thought to number about 3,400.

"The overall goal is to reduce the number of bears to a more manageable number, while improving public safety by reducing bear encounters with people," said DEP Commissioner Bob Martin.

State Fish and Game Council records show there were 943 bear sightings and 1,994 damage or nuisance complaints through the first 11 months of the year. All but four of the state's 21 counties reported bear activity this year.

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