New Jersey - As the debate continues over allowing a black bear hunt, the number of bears being reported in urban areas continues to rise in New Jersey.
On Monday, May 17, 2010 there were reports of three bears in Wayne, N.J. One bear was photographed running across a road near William Paterson University.
And, NorthJersey.com reported that a contractor came face-to-face with a bear wandering around a townhome complex.
Kevin Luyendyk said the animal was between 150 and 200 pounds and the bear came within one to two feet of him.
Just last week , a black bear was spotted in Englewood, less than five miles from the George Washington Bridge.
There are an estimated 3,400 bears in northern New Jersey. Growth of the black bear population has produced high levels of negative human-bear interactions.
There hasn't been a person killed by a black bear in New Jersey since 1852 but there is growing concern over the dangers.
Acting Environmental Commissioner Bob Martin says the number of serious bear incidents, including attacks on domestic and farm animals, is on the rise.
Attacks aren't the only concerns. Since 1981, 730 bears have been killed by vehicle strikes alone.
Black bear hunts in 2003 and 2005 resulted in short-term reductions in bear related complaints.
328 bears were killed in 2003 and 298 bears were killed in 2005 hunts.
The Department of Environment Protection is accepting comments until June 18, 2010 on a recommendation by the New Jersey Fish and Game Council to allow another hunt to manage the black bear population.
A group opposed to the hunt is suing the Fish and Game Council.
The Bear Education and Resource Group claims the only proven way to manage black bears is by proper garbage storage.