WEST MILFORD, N.J. (CBSNewYork) – Seeing a black bear cross your path in northwest New Jersey is no longer unusual—it’s becoming the norm. Bear hunting is held every year to keep the population down.
But CBS 2’s Vanessa Murdock reported, some homeowners say with a population of more than 2,500 black bears, it isn’t enough.
Then, there was a deadly encounter when 22-year-old Darsh Patel was mauled to death while hiking in the Apshawa Preserve in West Milford.
Hunter Eric Bunk lives in West Milford and says a bigger hunt is necessary to bring the numbers back into balance.
“We want them to be viewed as an asset, not a liability,” he said.
He says the six-day-long hunt in December is insufficient.
As Murdock reported, in 2013, 10,000 bear hunt permits were available, the state issued 7,500. During that hunt, 251 bears were killed.
Bunk wants the hunt earlier in the season and says it should last longer.
“We need a season when bears are on the move and actively looking for food, not denning up,” he said.
On Wednesday night, he brought his concerns to a council meeting where they agreed. The council declared the township of West Milford wants to reduce its bear population.