NEW JERSEY (PIX11) — New Jersey’s Fish and Game Council voted Tuesday to bring back the state’s bear hunt.

The NJ Department of Environmental Protection commissioner quickly approved the new plan. Gov. Phil Murphy, who previously disapproved of the annual hunt, said the hunt needed to come back because of the surging bear population.

“The facts on the ground have shown that we cannot rely on nonlethal methods alone to protect New Jersey residents from a growing black bear population,” Murphy said. “Today’s actions will facilitate the reinstatement of a regulated black bear hunt this year to help limit dangerous interactions between people and bears to protect public safety.”

Black bear incidents reported to the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection from January through October increased by 237% compared to the same period in 2021, according to the state. There were 62 aggressive encounters with people, one human attack, 12 dog attacks, 12 home entries, 15 attempted home entries, 84 instances of property damage exceeding $1,000, and 52 attacks on protected livestock.  

Current plans call for a reinstatement of the bear hunt from Dec. 5 through Dec. 10. It would be extended if a 20% population harvest target is not reached. Hunting would be allowed on state and private lands within designated bear hunting zones.