Stacy Proebstle, Townsquare Media

New Jersey wildlife officials say several dozen black bears have been killed so far on the first day of the state's annual hunt.

Thick fog may have reduced the number of hunters participating Monday at the start of six-day hunt.

Environmental Protection Department officials are still tallying up the number of hunters.

State officials say the hunt is needed to reduce the state's bruin population, now estimated at about 3,400.  Critics claim the hunt is cruel and the state's bear management policy is flawed.

They are in court Monday hoping to win the right to demonstrate at the Franklin bear check station in Sussex County.

DEP officials say they'll allow protests at any site but Franklin because of safety concerns. Protesters say Franklin is the most visible site to rally.

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