Lowering the rising population of bears in NJ

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The 2014 NJ bear hunt was supposed to be the last of a five-year plan of hunts designed to lower the rising population of black bears in New Jersey. 

In August, new, expanded hunts were added by the DEP's Fish and Wildlife Division for 2015 and 2016, Protesters blasted the hunt at the Statehouse on Thursday.

"I want to make this state the humane state," said NJ State Sen. Ray Lesniak (D-Elizabeth), who has sponsored legislation calling for an end to the hunt.  "Rather than killing bears that don't protect the public -- and the only thing they do is give the hunters some fun -- and that's wrong.  That's not humane -- that's inhumane."

Protesters called for an end to the hunt as one demonstrator, dressed as a bear, shoved an effigy of NJ Gov. Chris Christie into a bear-proof garbage can -- which demonstrators call a humane solution to unwanted human/bear contact.

"They're easy to maneuver -- they're lightweight -- easier than my garbage can," said activist Nora Marino. "What's the problem here -- why is this not being promoted?   Why are we shooting and killing bears instead of resorting to this sensible -- inexpensive -- practical solution?"

The bear hunt will begin before sunrise Monday and end on Saturday.

By law, the DEP reserves the right to add days to the hunt if bad weather interferes, or if harvest numbers aren't what the DEP hopes for them to be.

Total harvest went down year-to-year during the five years of the hunt from 2010 to 2014.