Majority in NJ Approve of Bear Hunt


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Jun 9, 2009
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FDU Poll Says Most Approve of Upcoming Bear Hunt
Hunt set to start Dec. 6

Oct. 10, 2010

Most New Jersey residents approve of the upcoming bear hunt—at least if wildlife experts say the state has a bear population problem—according to the latest Fairleigh Dickinson University PublicMind poll.

The poll asked voters if they'd approve of the bear hunt "if wildlife scientists conclude that bears are exceeding their recommended habitat limits and are destroying private property." It found 53 percent of those agreed, 36 percent disagreed, and 11 percent were unsure.

In the Passaic and Bergen counties, citizens expressed support for the hunt under that condition, with 44 percent affirming and 37 percent in disagreement; eighteen percent were unsure.

A second version of the question—simply asking voters whether they approve or disapprove of a bear-hunting season, but without mentioning the opinion of wildlife experts—showed slightly less support for the hunt, but more approved than disapproved. FDU reports 49 percent approved, and 33 percent disapproved. And far more people, 18 percent, were unsure whether they'd approve.

Bergen and Passaic residents supported it by a small margin under that scenario – 43 percent approving of the bear hunt and 41 percent disapproving; eleven percent of voters were unsure of their positions.

"Bear hunting is just not something people think about every day in the most densely populated state in the country," said Peter Woolley, a political scientist and director of the poll. "Many people will decide their views based on whether they think it is a necessity rather than recreation."

The 2010 black bear hunting season is Dec. 6 to 11. Any participant must complete a bear training seminar and possess a permit for one of the state's four bear hunting zones, all north of Route 78 and west of Route 287; no hunter can receive a permit for more than one zone. Each hunter has a bag limit of one black bear. More information is available from the state Department of Environmental Protection.

In the FDU poll, men were found to be twice as likely as women to approve of bear hunting. Men approved by a wide margin either way the question was asked (64-28 and 61-24), while women split on the questions either way they were asked (44-43 and 38-41).

Voters under 30 disapproved by a margin of 2-1, but voters older than 60 approved by a margin of 2-1.
Voters in the most rural parts of the Garden State were more likely to approve of a bear hunt than people in more developed parts of the state. In the northwest (Sussex, Hunterdon, Warren, Morris and Somerset counties) and south (Cape May, Atlantic, Cumberland, Gloucester, Camden and Salem counties), voters approved by margins of 2-1.

The Teaneck-area has not been immune from reports of bears. In August, a black bear was spotted around the Knickerbocker Country Club, near the Bergenfield border, reports said.

The Fairleigh Dickinson University poll of 831 registered voters statewide was conducted by telephone, including both landlines and cell phones, from Oct. 4 through Oct. 10, 2010. At random, half of respondents (423) were asked one version of the question about approving or disapproving of bear hunting and half were asked another version. The margin of error for each group is plus or minus five percentage points.

What do you think about the bear hunt? Tell us in the comments. Most New Jersey voters support the upcoming bear hunt, according to a new FDU PublicMind poll. We asked residents from throughout northern New Jersey how they felt.Credit Nilsa De La Cruz

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