Almost 300 Bears Killed By Arrows In New Jersey Hunt — So Far

Here's how to stop it from happening again.

At least 281 black bears have already been killed in the first two days of New Jersey's expanded bear hunt - and they died after being shot with arrows.

Taking place from October 10 to October 15, the newly added bear hunting season (there's also an annual hunt in December) is the first time in decades the "bear harvest" has allowed archery. During the first three days, the hunt is archery-only, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) announced. Hunters are allowed to shoot the bears with rifles in the final three days.

Animal lovers are calling the hunt "disturbing."

"Allowing bears to be hunted with bows and arrows has even greater potential than firearms to inflict painful, gruesome injuries and slow, agonizing deaths," Jennifer Place, a program associate for Born Free USA, told The Dodo. "At the start of this black bear hunting season, more than 200 bears were killed in just one day using this brutal method, and that's not accounting for any wounded bears that weren't ultimately found by the hunter. Severely wounded bears could suffer for days or even weeks before dying."

Still, the DEP promises in a press release that the "added fall season will help achieve [the] goal of healthy and sustainable bear population and reduce potential for encounters with people."

But black bears almost never attack people - you're far more likely to get struck by lightning. "Most negative black bear encounters are caused by surprising the bears or giving them a reason to think you are a threat," Born Free USA said.

Chris Norcott, a wildlife photographer who focuses particularly on black bears, recently told The Dodo that a black bear encounter can even been seen as lucky: "You'll be fortunate because they are shy and timid animals," he said. "[Like] any wild animal, black bears need to be respected."

But the DEP believes there's just one way to handle black bears. David Chanda, New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife director, added that the "introduction of a fall hunt, when black bears are more active, in addition to the zone expansions, will help us achieve our goal of a healthy and sustainable bear population and will increase opportunities for hunters to take bears in areas where bear and human encounters have been reported due to bears expanding their territories."

The hunt's regulations apparently offer no rules or protections at all for mother bears and cubs.

"It is simply unconscionable that hunters are allowed to kill both cubs and female bears with cubs," Place said. "Killing a mother bear only condemns her cubs to predation or starvation, unless they are killed by hunters too."