Hunters and protesters are in the woods of North Jersey, because the Garden State’s six-day black bear hunt begins Monday.

Black bear (Henry King, Getty Images}

According to Carole Stanko, the acting Chief for the Bureau of Wildlife Management, the hunt is necessary.

“We have one of the most dense black bear populations in the nation, and the most densely human populated state in the nation so there’s a lot of bear-human conflict. We’d like to reduce that both for the safety of the humans in the state, the residents of New Jersey, and for the health of the black bear population," Stanko said.

She said 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 can participate. They have to have a hunting license as well as a black bear permit which costs $2," she said.

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

“They are staffed by Division personnel,” Stanko said. “We will be taking biological data on the bears as well as logistical data, where the bear was harvested."

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

Stanko says 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.

“We are permitted to extend the hunt for four days afterwards, and that would be Wednesday, Dec. 16 through Saturday, Dec. 19."

Stanko says a daily bear count will be done and the results will be made public at the end of each day.

The black bear hunt can begin half an hour before sunrise, and last until half an hour after sunset for each of the six days. Hunters are only allowed to kill one bear, no matter how many days they hunt.

All black bear hunters must have a current and valid firearm hunting license and a special black bear hunting permit issued by the New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife, and they must use a shotgun, not smaller than 20 gauge or larger than 10 gauge with rifled slugs, or a single-barrel, single shot  muzzleloader rifle, not less than .44 caliber.

The Division of Fish and Wildlife reminds hunters it is illegal to hunt bears with a bow and arrow or a crossbow, and using a dog to pursue a black bear is also against regulations.