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November 16, 2010

New Jerseyans are starting to approve of a Garden State bear hunt, particularly when they are told that bears are exceeding their recommended habitat limits and destroying private property. A new poll by Fairleigh Dickinson University’s PublicMind found that 53 percent of voters approve of the controversial hunt, which will be held for the first time in five years from December 6-11. Four hunting zones have been mapped for the event, all north of Route 78 and west of 287.

The poll found that when simply asked whether they support a bear hunt, 49 percent of respondents answered affirmatively, compared with 2007, when only 41 percent approved.

More men approved of the hunt than women (64 percent vs. 44 percent), and the older the respondents, the more likely they were to favor the idea (63 percent of respondents over 60 approved of the hunt). Respondents in the northwest region of the state -- where the hunt is to take place -- supported the program more than those living in any other area (64 percent vs. 41 percent in the urban core).

The population of black bears has been steadily increasing, but animal rights activists have fought against the hunt, saying there are other tools that should be used to manage wildlife. The Department of Environmental Protection has more information.

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