County is undecided about legislation on bears

UNION COUNTY, NJ — According to a local news source, the recent shooting of Pedals, a beloved bear that was injured and walking upright on two paws, has initiated the legislation known as Pedals’ Law, which has recently advanced in the New Jersey Senate. The law would place a five-year ban on black bear hunting. There is an annual black bear hunt held in New Jersey to control the population.

The bear was shot and killed by a bowhunter on Oct. 10, the first sanctioned bow and arrow bear hunt in 40 years, according to the same news source. The six-day hunt resulted in the death of 562 bears. Union County hasn’t authorized any recent bear hunts, and there doesn’t appear to be a problem with overpopulation in this area, according to county officials.

“The legislation is so new that the county hasn’t taken a stand on it yet,” Communications Director for Union County Sebastian Delia told LocalSource over the phone. “The need for bear hunting varies according to issues of population and endangerment. We have occasional black bear sightings in the county, but there is no reason to organize a bear hunt at this time. There haven’t been any recent bear hunts at any parks in Union County in the recent past.”

The county will consider taking a stand on the issue in the near future. However, counties in the northwest area of New Jersey have an issue with overpopulation, according to New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife.
“New Jersey’s annual black bear hunt is a management hunt; one tool to achieve the state’s goals of having a sustainable bear population due to the high rate of reproduction,” Bob Considine, a spokesperson for the New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife, told LocalSource over the phone. “The northwest quadrant of New Jersey has the highest population but bears have been sighted in all 21 counties. Many states have a bear hunt, but New Jersey seems to get the most attention for it. We also educate people on how to prevent bears from interfering with the human population. At the end of the day when the reproduction rate is so high, it takes a little bit more than education.”

Residents in New Jersey have varied opinions on the matter. Some feel that bear hunting is crucial to maintain the population and safety of residents. Others feel that the hunt is an unnecessary, inhumane way of controlling these issues.

Another resident disagrees with this idea and believes shooting and killing an animal isn’t an act of cruelty.

“There aren’t enough natural predators to keep the population from exploding,” Hillside resident Joe Rodrigues told LocalSource in an interview. “If they ban the annual hunt, the population will explode, which will result in a lack of resources, driving animals into neighborhoods and yards. It’s a shame they aren’t using the animal for food or clothing, but shooting the bear is more humane than starving it to death.”

LocalSource attempted to contact David Wheeler, a wildlife expert for Union County, but he was unavailable to comment prior to press time.