257 Bears Killed on First Day of Hunt

The first killed was a 166-pound female.

By Brian Thompson
|  Tuesday, Dec 6, 2011  |  Updated 8:32 AM EDT
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State officials say the bear hunt is needed to reduce the state's bruin population, but critics claim the hunt is cruel and the state's bear management policy is flawed. Brian Thompson reports.

NBC New York

State officials say the bear hunt is needed to reduce the state's bruin population, but critics claim the hunt is cruel and the state's bear management policy is flawed. Brian Thompson reports.

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New Jersey wildlife officials say a total of 257 black bears were killed on the first day of the state's annual hunt.

The number is nearly identical to the first day of last year's hunt.

State officials said the first bear killed was a 166-pound female shot in the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area by an Arizona man. The second was a 205-pound male shot in Warren County by two teenagers from Wayne, N.J.

"I called it out, I just said, 'Are you on him?' Said '3, 2, 1' then we shot on 'go' at the exact same time," said K.C. Abel, one of the teen hunters.

In 2010, 592 bears were killed during the hunt. State officials predict a similar count this year. On the first day in 2010, there were about 260 killed.

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

After going to court Monday, the protesters were allowed the right to demonstrate at certain bear checkpoints during the hunt.

A ruling in state superior court said up to 25 people can demonstrate at the Franklin bear check station in Sussex County between noon and 4 p.m. each day.

A greater number will be allowed to demonstrate at two other weigh stations.

Critics of the hunt had been pushing for the Franklin station permit as it is a high-visibility site.

DEP officials felt it was too a dangerous a spot for a large gathering.

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