700-pound black bear shot in New Jersey sets world record, bowhunting group says
A bowhunting organization says a 700-pound bear shot in New Jersey last fall has set a world record as the largest black bear killed with a bow and arrow in North America.
The Pope and Young Club, a bowhunting and conservation organization, said the bear killed Oct. 14 in Morris County toppled a record set in 1993 by a hunter in California. The new record was announced after a special panel of judges was assembled Feb. 8 in Harrisburg during the Great American Outdoors Show, the group said.
“It has been an inspiring journey, to say the least,” hunter Jeff Melillo said in a statement quoted by the organization. “New Jersey, my home state, has its first-ever world record animal!”
Club records director Eli Randall said the animal’s skull measured over 23 inches and had a bone structure that he called “the heaviest I had ever seen”
Melillo recalled an Outdoor Life article suggesting that a world record black bear would likely come from New Jersey one day.
“They were spot on, and I never doubted it for one second. I’m very grateful that I get to be a part of all this. Pursuing bears with bow and arrow is a passion of mine,” he said in the organization’s release.
The bear, preserved through taxidermy, is to be displayed at the Pope and Young Annual Convention in Virginia in March.
New Jersey has the densest black bear population in the country, a byproduct of its great habitat, with suburban sprawl bumping up against wooded areas.
“We’ve been saying for the past couple years that the next World Record would come from New Jersey,” said Cody McLaughlin, spokesman for the New Jersey Outdoor Alliance. “We do have the thickest bear population in the country.”