UPDATED: Black bear hunt resumes

NEW JERSEY. Hunters killed 331 bears in the first segment of the black bear hunting season in October.

| 10 Dec 2023 | 12:39

The state’s black bear hunt reopened Monday, Dec. 4 for the second of two parts.

Since then, 136 bears have been killed, including 85 in Sussex County, 23 in Warren, 15 in Morris and 13 in Passaic.

Hunters killed 331 bears in the first segment of the bear hunting season in October.

Twenty-two of that total were tagged for a cumulative harvest rate of 13.5 percent.

Seven more tagged bears were killed last week, raising the harvest rate of 17.8 percent.

The state’s goal is a harvest rate of 20 percent.

Wildlife biologists affix tags to bears when one is handled for research purposes or is captured in response to a nuisance complaint.

Segment B of the hunt was scheduled through Saturday, Dec. 9 for shotguns and muzzleloaders only.

If the harvest rate does not reach 20 percent, the hunt will be extended to Wednesday, Dec. 13 through Saturday, Dec. 16. If the hunt is to be extended, state officials will say so Monday, Dec. 11.

Only those with a valid permit for Segment B who did not harvest a bear during the regular part of that segment may hunt during the Segment B extension.

Black bear hunting is permitted only in zones 1-5, which include parts of Sussex, Morris, Passaic, Warren, Hunterdon, Bergen, Mercer and Somerset counties.

According to rules adopted by the state Department of Environmental Protection on Oct. 2:

• 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 feet of a baited area when hunting bears.

Black bear permits are valid only for a specific zone. Hunters may have up to two permits, each for a different zone, but may harvest only one bear per segment no matter how many permits they have.

If no bear is taken during Segment A, the permit is valid for hunting in Segment B. If a hunter harvests a bear during Segment A, that permit is no longer valid; the hunter may purchase a permit for that same zone to use during Segment B.

Apprentice license holders are not eligible to hunt black bear.

Hunters must check all bears harvested at a mandatory bear check station. Check stations will be open from noon to 7 p.m. in Segment B.

When field dressing a black bear, hunters must leave the sex organs intact, attached to the body. A harvested black bear may be quartered and brought out of the field in sections.