By David Madden

By KYW’s David Madden

TRENTON, N.J. (CBS) — For the first time in decades, there’s an October bear hunt going on in a 1,000 square mile section of northwestern New Jersey. Over 300 bears have been bagged since Monday, and the hunt continues through Saturday.

New Jersey, believe it or not, is one of the best parts of the country for bears to breed. The state Department of Environmental Protection holds a December hunt every year. The October hunt was added  in the hope of setting a keen balance in the state.

“The goal of the hunt is to reduce the risks of bear-human encounters as well as to help keep the population sustainable and healthy,” DEP spokesman Larry Hajna told KYW Newsradio.

The state has not achieved its annual goal of a 30 percent bear harvest since hunts were re-established in 2010, but might with two hunts a year instead of one.

“We felt that this would be a good compliment because the bears are going to be more active at this time of year and weather tends to be better,” Hajna added.

This week’s event allows several thousand licensed hunters to use archery and, starting Thursday,  Muzzleloader rifles. The five-day firearm hunting season starts December 5.

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