An unseasonably mild weather day Wednesday gave New Jersey hunters favorable conditions as the state's annual black bear hunt continued, with a total of 57 bears taken for the day, and 366 killed since the hunt began earlier this week.

JHWilliams, ThinkStock

According to the NJ Department of Environmental Protection's Division of Fish & Wildlife, a majority of the bears - 37 - were harvested in Sussex County Wednesday with additional animals being taken in Warren, Morris and Hunterdon counties.

Although Wednesday's harvest was just over a quarter of the first day's total's for the 2015 hunt, the numbers are still higher than the 2014 season.

NJDEP officials believe the warmer temperatures make the bear population more active, which benefits the hunters. The bear harvest is meant to help curb the Garden State's black bear population, especially north of I-78. Bear hunting is allowed throughout the northern part of the state, which is broken up into six bear management zones, however only five of the zones are open to hunting. All licensed hunters may participate.

After a hunter shoots a bear, they are required to bring it to one of five check stations throughout the region.

Last year, 272 bruins were killed during the bear hunt, but this year’s target number is much larger.

Carole Stanko, the acting Chief for the Bureau of Wildlife Management told NJ 101.5 earlier this week that if the New Jersey bear population – estimated to be 3,500 – isn’t cut by 20 percent by the end of the hunt next Saturday, the hunt can continue for a set period of time.

Despite ongoing protests by animal rights activists in the state, Gov. Chris Christie, speaking on the December edition of Ask The Governor on NJ 101.5, said the hunt is necessary and will continue.

“There’s bears everywhere, it’s crazy,” the governor said. “This is a really bad problem and we have to get all over it. We’re gonna continue to proceed with it. It’s based on science. people are out there getting the job done.”

Toniann Antonelli is the digital managing editor at NJ 101.5. Reach her at toniann.antonelli@townsquaremedia.com, or on Twitter @ToniRadio1015.

 

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