New Jersey’s governor wants no more black bear trophy hunts in the state on his watch.

The New Jersey Fish and Game Council today proposed an amendment to the state’s 2021 bear management plan that would effectively suspend the annual black bear trophy hunt after the conclusion of this year’s hunt, which is scheduled to start next week. New Jersey’s bear hunt is particularly barbaric. It allows trophy hunters to use such cruel methods as baiting the animals with piles of rotting sugary food and chasing bears off state lands, where bear hunting is not allowed, and onto private lands, just so they can be killed. It also allows baby bear cubs to be hunted.

We applaud Gov. Phil Murphy, who made a campaign promise to end black bear trophy hunts, for his commitment to not approve the state’s new bear management plan if it contains lethal bear hunting. If the amendment is approved, it would mean there would be no bear trophy hunting in New Jersey starting next year, and presumably for the next four years.

A Humane Society of the United States poll last year showed that a supermajority of residents oppose such hunts. An even stronger majority is opposed to bear baiting. But unfortunately, attempts in the state legislature to prohibit baiting bears or bear trophy hunting have not been brought up for full floor votes.

While the plan is yet to be finalized, this is a big step forward and it is great news for our wildlife staff and our New Jersey state director who worked long and hard for this outcome. Unfortunately, the proposed changes won’t stop the 2020 bear hunting season, which will begin Oct. 12. We strongly urge Gov. Murphy to take steps available to him and immediately call off this hunt as well.

The New Jersey Fish and Game Council will accept public comment on this proposed change until Dec. 4, and will hold a public hearing before it is finalized. The comment period will open soon, and if you’re a resident of New Jersey, we urge you to weigh in and let the council know that you support ending the trophy hunting of black bears in the state. Please watch this space for further updates.