Fish and Game Council expected to approve 2004 bear hunt

| 21 Feb 2012 | 10:48

    TRENTON -The state Fish and Game Council was expected to approve the 2004 game, including another bear hunt in December, according to a published report. Last year's hunt was the first to be held in New Jersey in 33 years. ``Basically, this hunt would be the same as last year,'' W. Scott Ellis, council chairman, told The Record of Bergen County. Free permits would be offered to those who complete a one-day training course, and each hunter would be allowed to kill one bear. Hunters who took the training seminar last year would not have to repeat it. In March, the state Fish and Game Council proposed the hunt, brushing aside Environmental Commissioner Bradley M. Campbell's recommendation to skip a 2004 season. Last year, despite protests and thousands of letters to the governor's office, Campbell and Gov. James E. McGreevey supported a six-day hunt as a way to help reduce what was believed to be a burgeoning bear population _ estimated then at 3,200 _ and an alarming increase in bear-human encounters. State wildlife officials say 328 bears were killed in last year's hunt, and about 300 cubs are expected to be born this year. Campbell has said better data, developed in part from research conducted amid last December's hunt, helped state wildlife officials refine the population figure to about half the previous estimate. News of the plans was upsetting to animal advocates. ``This obviously means that the bear hunt was not a one-shot deal,'' said Angie Metler, a member of the New Jersey Animal Rights Association. ``The hunters obviously want the bear hunt to be an annual event.''