A New Jersey appeals court has decided that the state's black bear hunt will happen as planned, despite a challenge from two animal rights groups.

The Animal Protection League of New Jersey and the Bear Education and Resource Group had filed the appeal, claiming the state's black bear management policy was not valid and the hunt should not take place.

"This hunt is a recreational trophy hunt, it has nothing to do with the bear population and has nothing to do with human-bear conflicts" said Doris Lin, director of legal services for Bear Group.

The court acknowledged that there were differences of opinion in expert findings offered by both sides in the case, but did not find sufficient cause to overturn the plan and stop the hunt.

According to the ruling, "Despite the conflicting opinions, the Black Bear Management Policy contains significant substantive professional and scientific support for its conclusions."

Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Bob Martin said he was pleased by the decision. The ruling by the Appellate Division of state Superior Court clears the way for a week-long bear hunt that will take place in northwestern New Jersey starting on Monday, Dec. 5.

"This ruling affirms the science- and fact- based policy that we have adopted as part of a comprehensive approach to managing black bears in New Jersey,'' said Commissioner Bob Martin. "The plan is a legitimate response to deal with a large black bear population and a resultant increase in public complaints about bear and human encounters. This is a public safety issue that requires responsible action by the state.''

Animal rights groups plan to file an appeal with the state Supreme Court.