Our recently published report demonstrates how the state is using black bears and a hunt as a means of recruiting hunters, illustrates the connection between a state agency and private corporate interests and ultimately shows the state's violation of the public trust.

keep fighting - now more than ever!

The Department of Environmental Protection issued a press release on April 21, 2011 about black bears. It was full of the usual rhetoric, giving some tips about living with bears, but not missing an opportunity to scare people. At the end of one of the paragraphs, they declared the bears will be killed on an annual basis.

bear photo

Excerpt: "...To deal with that issue, a New Jersey Comprehensive Black Bear Management Policy was developed by the state's Fish and Game Council and approved last year by Commissioner Martin.

That policy emphasizes managing black bears through research and monitoring, non-lethal and lethal control of problem bears, public education on co-existing with bears, and includes an annual controlled hunt."

The New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife is not going to spend one cent on nonlethal black bear management. Why? Well, they are mandated by law to provide recreational hunting to their constituents. According to the New Jersey Chapter of the Sierra Club, the Divisionn doesn't have the funds to fully implement a nonlethal black bear management plan.

We know if they spent less time researching and monitoring black bears for hunting purposes, they would have those funds. If they employed nonlethal black bear management practices, the complaints would be a thing of the past, as people would be co-existing peacefully with black bears without incident.

The "Year of Doing Things Differently"

Roll up your sleeves and let’s try something different. If you want to be united with all other bear supporters and fully realize the phenomenal power we possess, please take the pledge:

As an advocate for NJ’s black bears and their protection, I will:

» help conduct nonpartisan voter registration drives at all events
» hold petition drives in my local community, where my legislator's constituents live. These are the only petitions that matter to legislators
» learn all about the political process
» be a participant in grassroots lobbying and help to get pro-bear legislation introduced
» get every group of which I am a member to join the Coalition to Protect NJ Black Bears
» be a formidable force for bears!

Send your pledges today to info@aplnj.org or APLNJ, Attn: Pledge, PO Box 174, Englishtown, NJ 07726.

Edward A. Tavss, Ph.D. - National Research supports nonlethal

In 2005, Dr. Tavss studied thirteen sites across the United States and Canada. His study proved conclusively that hunting black bears did not result in decreasing complaints. In fact, it correlated with increasing complaints. The nonviolent approach, focusing on garbage control resulted in decreasing complaints. Please see this vital report here.

In 2010, Dr. Tavss wrote an Op-Ed that was published in two major newspapers, but not in the New York Times. Dr. Tavss' reports and data was discussed on radio, television, newspapers, and township meetings. Please view the Op-Ed and see all the links referencing different media outlets here.

Dr. Tavss' 2010 Study demonstrated that the NJ Division of Fish and Wildlife's surge in complaints that was used to justify a black bear hunt was proven to be a DECREASE in complaints, when the invalid interpretations of data, duplicate complaints and other erroneous duplicates are eliminated. See Dr. Tavss' 2010 report here

Expert Answers Questions about Bears

Dr. Stephen Stringham, a black bear expert produced the following Q&A for the Bear Group, dealing with reducing concerns surrounding bears. Please view it here.

The truth about bear hunting

Make no mistake, bearing hunting is not about public safety nor property protection. It's not about population control. It's about having a head to "display" on your wall or having a rug on your floor. This is a trophy hunt, pure and simple.

The Division of Fish and Wildlife Black Bear Express

Ever wonder how bears get to southern areas of the state? A 1981 DFW report, states clearly that bears will never be able to re-populate sourthern New Jersey on their own. In this report, the Division proposed to take bears from other states. You will also read that by 1977, only 10 bears remained in New Jersey, a full seven years after the bear hunt was closed in 1970. See the full report by clicking here. This proves that the Division, through regulated hunting, every single bear living in New Jersey from 1958 - 1970.

The Division of Fish and Wildlife has admitted to moving and relocating bears, but we believe they have been relocating bears in greater numbers than reported. They have made it no secret that they want bear hunting throughout the state. As late as 2006, the map shown here demonstrates that Assunpink, in addition to almost all of southern New Jersey is within a proposed hunt area. Presently, Assunpink Wildlife Management area is home to several black bears relocated by the Division. On April 15, 2011, a black bear yearling, caught in a tree on the New Jersey Turnpike was relocated there. When questioned by a reporter about the potential of a bear hunt in this area, the Division said they have no plans for a bear hunt in that area. Their 2006 map proves otherwise.

Staying Strong, Focused, and on Target

After a horrendous 6 days of bear hunting that ended the lives of 591 bears, we are exhausted, sad, and outraged. Every single person who worked tirelessly to save their lives was failed by a corrupt system all the way up to the governor.

Things to keep in mind:

Governor Christie is counting on us to go away. We are NOT going away! And we will never forget the lives of every bear who was killed by the Fish and Game Council, Division of Fish and Wildlie and by hunters.

Although we were unable to stop the hunt when the courts denied us a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO), please remember that in 2005, we did not get a TRO either, but we went on to win the full lawsuit. That lawsuit invalidated the 2005 black bear management policy and declared the hunt illegal as well. The2010 lawsuit is moving forward!

Everywhere we went during and after the hunt we met people who were distressed by the hunt because of what they saw on the news. We’ve read letters to the editor from people who were originally neutral on the hunt, but after they witnessed mothers and cubs killed by groups of hunters, they are now against bear hunting. We will need to find everyone of these people and get them activated! If you are one of those people, please contact us immediately.

Our protests, vigils, and documentation at the weigh station helped to spread the word about what was happening to the bears.

Click here for critical news report from NBC News. Thanks to Brian Thompson for investigative reporting!

Many thanks to the Sayreville town council, who unanimously passed a resolution on December 13, 2010 to urge the Governor and the State of New Jersey to cancel all future black bear hunts and focus its energies and resources on public education, bear habitat analysis, and issuing warnings and subsequent summonses to those who violate the black bear feeding ban, which are all designed to prevent human-bear interactions and thereby protect both species.

Thanks to Councilman David Kaiserman for introducing the resolution, member Ellen McConnell for all her hard work on this and to the entire council! Also, thanks to Rutgers University Professor, Dr. Ed Tavss, APLNJ executive director, Angi Metler, Carole Allamand, Abby Quartin, and Linda Strandberg for coming out to support this effort. 


1. Please continue to contact NJ Governor Chris Christie

Governor Chris Christie, PO Box 001, Trenton, NJ 08625

Phone: 609-292-6000 (Don't let them transfer you to the Division of Fish & Wildlife. Be firm that you want to leave a message for the Governor.)

Fax: 609-292-3454

Webmail: Click here (pick Environment, then Fish and Wildlife)

2. Contact NJ Legislators in the "New Jersey Angler and Hunter Conservation Caucus." (It doesn’t’ matter where you live; many of these legislators aspire to be governor.)

Click here to see flier.

3. Please write letters to your local paper supporting the bears. Keep them short and keep them coming. Use the Facts and Talking Points listed below.

Facts and Talking points

PUBLIC SAFETY? In the history of our state no black bear has ever killed or seriously harmed any person. If there is a perceived threat to public safety due to human/bear interactions, then garbage control is the single most important and effective tool to reduce such interactions.

BEAR BIOLOGY: Bears are a self-regulating species. When they are denied access to unnatural foods, their reproductive rate goes down to what the environment can sustain. Black bears DO NOT OVERPOPULATE.

WASTE/ NONENFORCEMENT OF THE LAW: The DFW wasted $2 million in appropriations to enforce the black bear feeding ban. From 2005-2009, the Division's Bureau of Law Enforcement wrote 21,463 summonses, but only 9 on the bear feeding ban. In the 2005 comprehensive black bear management policy, the DFW reported the need to improve the feeding ban law, but in five years, and throughout the nonlethal program, no legislation was introduced, and lack of enforcement continues to exist.

FGC HELD ILLEGAL MEETINGS: In the "BEAR v NJ DEP" lawsuit initiated by the BEAR Group, an October 4, 2010 order from the court ordered that the NJ Fish and Game Council (FGC) provide a list of the dates of all meetings and minutes at which an "effective majority" of FGC members were present. We are hoping the courts will find the FGC violated the Open Public Meetings Act when they held secret meetings of the game committee to develop the 2010 Comprehensive Black Bear Management Policy.

DFW BREAKS THE LAW: Since 1999, the Division of Fish and Wildlife failed to comply with statutory mandate (NJSA 23:2-2) to provide an annual report to the legislature. These reports are for fiscal responsibility and accountability and would be available to the public. UPDATE: We heard that DFW is working on this report. We are looking forward to its release. 

DFW COOKED THE BOOKS: In March of 2010, the DFW started reporting a huge surge in bear complaints and used this as justification for the 2010 bear hunt. A report released in October, 2010, from Rutgers University Professor Dr. Edward Tavss, proved bear complaints significantly declined. The reported surge in bear complaints resulted from invalid interpretations of data, duplicate complaints and other erroneous data, not from any actual increase in complaints or an increase in the bear population. See Dr. Tavss' report here: www.aplnj.org/EdTavss2010Study.pdf

HUNTING DOESN'T WORK: Dr. Tavss' previous 2005 study demonstrated that in every site studied, hunting failed to decrease complaints, while in these same sites, nonlethal methods worked in reducing complaints. See report here: http://www.aplnj.org/assets/pdf/TavssReport.pdf

BEARS HAVE MASSIVE SUPPORT: The official public comment period for the State's Comprehensive Black Bear Management (CBBM) Policy ended on June 18, 2010.  Of these, a whopping 6,484 (70%) were against the bear management policy and against bear hunting. Please use this in all your letters.

PUBLIC WANTS NONLETHAL: In April 2010, a poll conducted by Mason-Dixon Polling & Research found that a majority of NJ voters oppose opening a bear hunt, and oppose practices that were permitted in the state's previous two hunts, including shooting 10-month-old cubs, shooting mothers with cubs and baiting bears with food. Voters also overwhelmingly support non-lethal management. The Humane Society of the United States commissioned this poll.

CALL OFF HUNT: This hunt is strictly a recreational trophy hunt, a waste of taxpayer dollars, is cruel, doesn't solve a thing and the public doesn't want it.



Since 1988, the Animal Protection League of New Jersey (APLNJ) has been educating New Jersey residents about the true nature and disposition of our native black bears. We were astounded by the overwhelming number of New Jerseyans who love bears. To be sure, there’s something about bears.

When the Division of Fish and Wildlife (DFW) stopped bear hunting in 1970, they did so because regulated hunting killed every bear in the state. Since that time, the DFW has been working to reinstate and institutionalize bear hunting. Fortunately, massive public support for bears stopped several proposed hunts.

Desperate to overcome the public support bears had, the DFW began a public relations campaign designed to smear, slander, and malign our small timid population of bears. Well placed articles, written by hunters working for newspapers started to appear everywhere. Sensational headlines featuring bears were designed to frighten people into thinking New Jersey was overrun by marauding bears. Nothing could be further from the truth.

There has never been a single confirmed case of a death or serious injury caused by a black bear, in New Jersey. In fact, statistics show that black bears are far less dangerous than dogs, spiders, and sharks combined. Over two million residents live in bear country, in harmony with the bears.

APLNJ is working to dispel myths and eliminate irrational fears. Read on to learn all you can about black bears and join our efforts to protect them. Our work with the Coalition to Protect Black Bears in New Jersey is helping to create Bear Smart Communities throughout New Jersey.

National Research Endorses Nonlethal Solutions

photo of a bearNational research conducted by Dr. Edward Tavss, in 2005, shows that the only effective method to reduce nuisance complaints is the elimination of the food/attractants that lure bears into human environments.

This addresses the root of the issue–bears being attracted into human environments–rather than the symptom. Tavss’s data demonstrates that reducing the number of bears by hunting is ineffective in reducing nuisance complaints, as remaining bears will continue to be drawn into all environments where human provided food and attractants remain.

Click to read the full report or a synopsis.

Dr. Tavss showed us that the only effective way to reduce complaints is through nonlethal methods. Here are some other reasons why hunting doesn't work:

  • It does not address the root causes of conflicts, nuisance complaints, etc.
  • Bears are territorial. When they are killed either in hunts, DFW, or by the police, this allows new bears to move into the vacated territory.
  • States that have annual hunts continue to experience increasing nuisance complaints.
  • In states where bears have killed people (extremely rare occurrences), their bear hunts did not prevent these tragedies. Educational efforts and garbage containment would have.

There are hundreds of effective nonviolent ways to deter bears and coexist peacefully. This is where all of our energy and resources should be placed.


Facts about Bears

As the principal biologist of the Wildlife Research Institute, Lynn Rogers, Ph.D., has spent over 42 years studying black bears. Rogers has written over a hundred scientific articles on black bear behavior and ecology and has served as senior author on more peer-reviewed scientific articles on bears than anyone in the world. He has created several museum exhibits and has edited many scientific articles, books, and TV scripts.

Dr. Rogers is a world renowned black bear expert. Many of our members, including our director attended his Black Bear Field Study Course and cannot think of anyone better to educate you about bears.

Please click here to learn more about bears.


Bear Proofing Tips

By eliminating attractants and following these simple bear proofing tips, you can keep bears away from your home. When a community becomes Bear Smart, they can keep bears away from the neighborhood. It’s that simple.

Also, the reproduction rate of bears is reduced when access to unnatural foods is eliminated. Follow these tips to become a Bear Smart household:

  • Invest in a bear resistant container. Keep the cans outside of your house and NOT in the garage or shed.
  • Remove attractants from your property.
    • Remove bird feeders. If you must feed birds, do it between November and April, when most bears are denned. Clean up all debris and store the bird seed inside your house in air-tight containers.
    • Remove companion animal food from decks, kennels, and cages. Feed companion animals indoors.
    • Clean barbecue grills after each use and dispose of grease.
    • Rinse food containers before putting into the trash or recycling.
    • Harvest ripened fruit from trees and remove fallen fruit from the ground.
    • Do not leave groceries or other attractants in your vehicles.
    • Never intentionally or unintentionally feed bears. Comply with the Black Bear Feeding Ban Law (P.L. 2002, Chapter 97, C.23:2A-14).
    • Do not leave accessible windows or doors open. Screens are not bear-proof.
    • Stop baiting practices that bring bears into our communities.
  • If you do see bears, do not talk nicely to them. Make them think you will harm them. They frighten easily. Use basic aversive-conditioning tactics to scare the bear, but this must be consistent and initially intense. Varying it up or down will habituate the bear and become ineffective.
    • Loud noises (coins in tin can, air horns, marine whistles, banging pots and pans) can scare bears. Vary these tactics and do not give up. Persistence is the key to keeping bears away.
    • Blast bears with a spray from the garden hose or a super-soaker water gun.
    • Use dominance posturing and vocalizations on your part to teach the bears to fear you.
  • Get your local government involved in becoming a Bear Smart Community. For more information on this, please contact The BEAR Group.

If you have found other ways of keeping bears off your property, we’d love to hear from you. Please write to us.



On September 27, 2007, APLNJ and the BEAR Group won a major lawsuit when the Appellate Division invalidated the 2005 black bear management policy because they found the state violated the Administrative Procedure Act. Violations included the failure to respond to questions at the public hearing, and failure to publish a report summarizing and responding to public comments.

This legal victory shows how the Fish and Game Council (FGC), disregards laws and procedures. Instead of managing wildlife for all of us, the FGC abuses their power to satisfy less than 1% of New Jersey’s population who hunts.

Please see the full decision here.


Animal Protection League of New Jersey