Republican lawmakers from New Jersey’s 24th District argue Gov. Phil Murphy bears some responsibility for a recent attack in Lafayette after bringing the state’s bear hunt to a halt.
State Senate Minority Leader Steve Oroho (R-24) said that without a responsible hunting policy, the bear population in the state was exploding.
“Regretfully, that will mean we will continue to see more dangerous interactions like (the attack in Lafayette.) This latest incident was a close call that could have been much worse, and it is inevitable that more residents will encounter dangerous situations if Murphy doesn’t re-evaluate his reckless position,” he said.
Politically Motivated Policy
Oroho pointed to the New Jersey Fish and Game Council’s decision to create an “emergency” bear hunt to control the population in September 2021, but that Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Shawn LaTourette rejected the council’s position.
“The Administration’s politically motivated policy is irresponsible, dangerous and unnecessary,” Oroho added. “The experts know best, and they should be the ones designing a sustainable bear management policy for New Jersey.”
Lafayette and Prior Attacks
On May 11, a 34-year-old resident of Lafayette found three bears near her mailbox and was attacked by a younger cub weighing between 150 lbs. and 200 lbs.
The attack followed a story of an 81-year-old woman from Sparta who was attacked in January. The woman’s dog was killed in the altercation.
“Until Murphy interfered, controlled hunts have been successful, ensuring a stable, well-managed bear population. It is obvious the current strategy is a failure, and I fear that if common sense doesn’t prevail soon, there could be even greater disastrous consequences,” said Assemblyman Parker Space (R-24).
Bears Spotted in Waldwick
While the bear debate was typically relegated to the more rural parts of the state, the issue became more real for residents of Waldwick on March 15. Another bear was found May 1 in the town.
A report from The Record showed that a black bear was found rambling through Wyckoff before scrambling up a utility pole outside of Palermo’s Bakery May 15.
The problem could spread throughout New Jersey, as the state is the most densely populated for both people and bears.
“We have too many bears in close proximity to busy neighborhoods. That is a formula for trouble,” said Assemblyman Hal Wirths (R-24). “The governor’s stubbornness is putting lives in peril for nothing more than political promises to favored constituencies. Public safety is at increasing risk without a safe hunt to control the bears in our state.”