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Thread: Bear 'attack' or 'encounter'? Latest incident fires up debate over hunting New Jersey's most controversial animal

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    Bear 'attack' or 'encounter'? Latest incident fires up debate over hunting New Jersey's most controversial animal

    HARDYSTON TWP., N.J. — The black bear that swatted an elderly man in the face last month is long gone, caught and euthanized by state wildlife officials, but the philosophical post-mortem over the future of New Jersey's largest predator continues.

    For one, there's a debate over how to even describe what happened in the 82-year-old man's garage in West Milford, Passaic County, on July 24. He was left with 30 stitches in his face, evidence enough to call it an "attack," say pro-hunting groups. Or was it instead an avoidable "encounter," one that the man could have prevented by not storing food in his garage and keeping the door closed?
    "When is an attack not an attack? According to Governor Murphy, it's when the 'encounter' is with a Black Bear," the New Jersey Outdoor Alliance, an outdoors group representing hunting fishing, and trapping interests, said in a recent news release.
    The victim, reached by phone last week, said he didn't "want to get involved in that controversy."
    In New Jersey, there's no more controversial animal than the black bear, an omnivore that typically weighs in at 400 to 500 pounds. Though they've been spotted in nearly county in the state at one time or another, most live in the northern mountainous counties such as Sussex, Passaic, Morris and Warren. Estimates of black bear populations in North Jersey range from 2,500 to 3,000.
    No attacks on humans had been reported from Jan. 1 to July 21, and it was unclear whether the state Department of Environmental Protection would classify the July 24 incident as an attack.
    In 2014, a hiker was killed by a black bear in West Milford, the only fatal attack in the state.
    Gov. Phil Murphy had made a campaign promise to end New Jersey's bear hunt, which began in 1958 and lasts, in total, about four weeks in the fall and winter with both bows and firearms. In August 2018, he signed an executive order banning the killing of black bears on state land, roughly 700,000 acres. Hunting on private lands was still allowed, and several hundred bears were killed during the season.
    Just before Murphy took office in 2018, the state's division of Fish and Wildlife issued a 12-page report claiming that the "removal of hunting as a management tool will quickly allow the population to rebound to unacceptable levels."
    Sightings are up in the state this year, though the reason for that increase depends on whom you ask.
    The state DEP said, in a statement, that the increased sightings may have something to do with the coronavirus pandemic.
    "This is the time of year when bears are looking for habitat, particularly younger males that have left their mothers," the agency said. "Reports may have increased due to more people being at home seeing bears as they disperse into habitats."
    Cody McLaughlin, spokesman for the Outdoor Alliance, said bear sightings were going up prior to the pandemic, however. He believes the bear population in the state is "exploding."
    "This is a simple matter of math, and I don't like being right on this," McLaughlin said. "The bear hunt does work to reduce conflict."

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    Do people eat bear meat?
    "Think as I think," said a man,
    "Or you are abominably wicked;
    You are a toad."
    And after I had thought of it,
    I said: "I will, then, be a toad." - Stephen Crane

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    Quote Originally Posted by Celeste Chalfonte View Post
    Do people eat bear meat?
    Yes, we do and it seems to smarten the rest of them up right quick.
    "Alexa, slaughter the fatted calf."

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    Quote Originally Posted by Celeste Chalfonte View Post
    Do people eat bear meat?
    Why not? They eat bats.
    “Kind hearts are more than coronets, and simple faith than Norman blood.”

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    Quote Originally Posted by Celeste Chalfonte View Post
    Do people eat bear meat?
    Spring Black Bear is delicious. You do have to cook it carefully to avoid Trichinosis.
    If it pays, it stays

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