New Jersey's black bear hunting season is off to a slow start.

Flickr User A. Poulos (Iya)

Just over a dozen bears had been killed by early Monday afternoon, on a cold, rainy start to the season.

State fish and wildlife officials say the first was a 279-pound adult male taken in Andover Township, in Sussex County, by Christopher Olivio of Byram.

The state says 6,445 bear permits out of a maximum available 10,000 have been issued, a small decrease from last year.

The six-day hunt is taking place in four designated areas in parts of Sussex, Warren, Morris, Passaic, Bergen, Somerset and Hunterdon counties.

Hunters are limited to only one bear for the season.

State officials say they need to control the black bear population, which grew to about 3,000 in the hunting area in 2012. Animal rights groups protested the hunt.

(Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)