Hunters kill 286 bears during first 5 days of New Jersey hunt


WEST MILFORD, NJ – DECEMBER 5 : Hunters walk past the sign warning park goers to avoid bears while visiting the Waywayanda State Park December 5, 2005 near West Milford, New Jersey. Gates to the park opened today at 5AM for the second New Jersey bear hunt in 35 years. The hunt is scheduled for six days, ending Saturday, December 10, 2005. (Photo by Colin Archer/Getty Images)

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — Hunters have killed 286 bears so far during New Jersey’s latest black bear hunt.

The state’s Division of Fish & Wildlife says 22 bruins were culled on Friday, the fifth day of the hunt that concludes on Saturday. Hunters had been restricted to using archery for the first three days, but starting Thursday they were also allowed to use muzzleloading rifles.

The hunt is restricted to Sussex, Warren, Passaic, Morris, Bergen, Hunterdon, Somerset and Mercer counties. Hunting is prohibited in state parks, forests and wildlife management areas.

The second segment of the hunt, for firearms only, is scheduled to begin on Dec. 7.

Gov. Phil Murphy has said this year could be the last for the bear hunt, which the Democrat pledged to end when he ran for governor in 2017. Murphy cited a new bear management plan that the state Fish and Game Council was studying.

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, no bear check stations are available. Hunters must tag their kills and call a number for instructions.

Hunters bagged 315 bears during the 2019 hunt. Most were killed in Sussex County.

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