New Jersey Expands Black Bear Hunting

Weekly news, tips, trivia, fun facts and wild tales from the outdoors

Aug. 12, 2015

The state most densely populated by humans has expanded its upcoming hunting seasons for black bears, following an increase in problems associated with the animals and a fatal bear attack occurring in 2014. You’ll also read about a new tax on firearms and ammunition imposed by the Seattle City Council this week, and much more.

New Jersey Increases Black Bear Hunting Region, Season
Following an increase in bear/human encounters and the fatal mauling of a hiker last fall, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection’s Fish and Game Council this week voted to expand the state’s black bear hunt.

While less than 60 miles from New York City, New Jersey’s northwest corner is home to one of the nation’s highest concentrations of black bears. An annual six-day bear hunt in December was launched in 2010, when 3,600 bears were counted in the area. But even after five years of culling, the bear population has surged back to 3,600, according to DEP spokesman Larry Hajna.

Absher's ONH 8-12-15
Following an increase in bear/human encounters and the fatal mauling of a hiker last fall, New Jersey decided to expand its black bear hunting season.

In a unanimous vote Tuesday, August 11, the Council approved a recommendation by environmental officials to expand the geographic area of the hunting zones. In addition, the Council added an October hunt beginning in 2016, with the December hunting season often hampered by bad weather and less animal activity as the bears prepare to hibernate. Hunters will be permitted to kill one bear in each of the two hunting seasons.

Bear sightings in the targeted region have continued to increase, despite the hunting seasons. A Rutgers University student hiking in West Milford, was fatally mauled in September, and a series of bears have been killed after entering area homes.

“We really need to increase the number of bears harvested so that we see a reduction in incidents,” Hajna said. “It’s better for the bears.”

Seattle Council Imposes ‘Gun Violence Tax’ on Firearms, Ammo
Despite recommendations to the contrary from firearms industry representatives and local gun dealers, a Seattle City Council committee on Monday, August 10 voted unanimously to approve an ordinance to tax sales of guns and ammunition in Seattle and require gun owners to report the theft or loss of any firearm within 24 hours.

The ordinance was introduced by Seattle City Council President Tim Burgess, who argued its intent is to force firearms and ammunition manufacturers to pay costs allegedly associated with illegal firearms use and gun violence in the city.

The ordinance would impose a $25 tax on each firearm sold in Seattle as well as a 5-cent tax on every individual round of ammunition, except for .22 cal. ammunition, which would carry a 2-cent tax per round.

“We’ve been working on this for several years,” Burgess told KING 5. “We tax cigarettes and alcohol and even wood-burning stoves for public health purposes. Why not guns and ammunition?”

Burgess and supporters of the ordinance estimated the tax would generate an additional $300,000 to $500,000 for the city annually.

But a representative of the national trade association representing the firearms and ammunitions industry told council members the ordinance would instead drive down the overall tax revenue received by the city by sending business elsewhere.

The tax would cause buyers to “travel to retailers outside Seattle,” Trevor Santos, manager of government relations for the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), told council members. The burden of the tax, would fall on “law-abiding gun owners,” argued Santos, because criminals don’t patronize legitimate gun dealers.

The measure would take effect Jan. 1, 2016, though it is expected to be swiftly challenged in court by firearms advocacy groups.

New Organization Launches Tree Stand Safety Awareness Campaign
Tree Stand Safety Awareness (TSSA), a newly formed not-for-profit 501 (3)c organization with the mission of educating hunters about tree stand safety, has announced that August is officially Tree Stand Safety Awareness Month.

August, the month that most hunters start heading back to the woods to cut trails and hang stands in preparation for upcoming hunting season, is the most opportune time for tree stand awareness. TSSA is looking to get hunters to start the season by putting safety first.

Tree stand accidents are annually the No. 1 cause of death and serious injury to deer hunters and virtually 100 percent of these incidents are preventable by implementing three simple measures: First, wear a full-body harness when hunting from a tree stand. Second, stay connected from the time your feet leave the ground. Third, make sure your hunting buddies do the same. It really is that simple.

Visit the TSSA website at

West Virginia Re-Establishes Concealed Carry Reciprocity With Nevada
Attorney General Patrick Morrisey announced Wednesday, August 5 that West Virginia has successfully re-established full concealed-carry handgun reciprocity with the State of Nevada, ensuring that citizens’ concealed handgun licenses issued by either state will be mutually recognized.

The action brought the total number of states permitting West Virginia residents with valid concealed handgun licenses to legally carry a concealed handgun to 32, ranking it among the states with the greatest number of reciprocity agreements.

“As Attorney General, it has been a priority to protect the Second Amendment rights of West Virginians and those who visit here,” Attorney General Morrisey said.

Morrisey called the mutual recognition agreement another positive step for law-abiding firearms owners living in West Virginia and Nevada.

A statement issued by the AG’s office this week acknowledged the Director of the Nevada Department of Public Safety sent a letter on behalf of the Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval to the West Virginia Attorney General providing the statutory notice required by W.Va. Code § 61-7-6a for West Virginia to mutually recognize Nevada’s concealed handgun permits.

Quote of the Week
“Closing days of hunting seasons are like the last, late hands of poker, after most of the players have left the game. The crowd is not rowdy any longer, nor is it a crowd. Some losers are playing through to the last hand, desperately drawing the worst cards of the evening. There are only one or two winners left, playing for conscience to give the losers a chance, or because they’ve become a little compulsive, or sometimes out of an odd nostalgia—the evening started so long ago, and so much has happened since, that it is pleasant to muse now over the hands that don’t matter very much.

– Vance Bourjaily,
Closing Days, Esquire, 1965

J.R. Absher is a freelance outdoor writer whose articles and columns appear in numerous national publications. He offers his unique perspective of the outdoors weekly for You may contact him at

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