By Matt Arco
Gov. Phil Murphy on Monday halted New Jersey's annual bear hunt on all state land this year.
The governor, who said during his gubernatorial campaign he would end the hunts that were in place under former Gov. Chris Christie, signed an executive order that has been hailed by supporters as a good first step in ending black bear hunts in New Jersey.
"Today, I am fulfilling my commitment to stop the bear hunt to the greatest extent of my authority by ordering the Department of Environmental Protection to prevent bear hunting on all public lands under the DEP's jurisdiction during the 2018 season," Murphy said in a statement.
"I am also calling on the Legislature to take action on this critical issue," he said. "My first concern has always been public safety and before we authorize another hunt, we should review all non-lethal options."
The order bans hunting on all state forests, state parks and recreation areas, and state Wildlife Management Areas -- about 700,000 acres, according to the New Jersey Sierra Club.
That leaves 1 million acres privately owned or owned by counties where hunting is still permitted.