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Weather Continues To Hamper NJ Bear Hunters

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(Photo credit: MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images)

(Photo credit: MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images)

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TRENTON, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) — New Jersey’s six-day black bear hunt has passed the halfway mark with 326 bruins bagged so far.

Officials believe rainy weather has kept the numbers down.

Hunters killed 17 bears on Wednesday and 52 on Tuesday. That compares to 257 during the first day of the hunt on Monday.

The state says hunters harvested 592 black bears in 2010.

Animal activists have asked the state Supreme Court to overturn a lower court ruling that restricts the number of protesters allowed at the Franklin bear check station in Sussex County. The state says the limit is needed for the protesters’ safety.

Activists are being allowed to protest at certain bear check stations during the six-day hunt. A ruling in state superior court ruled Monday says up to 25 people can demonstrate at the Franklin bear check station in Sussex County between noon and 4 p.m. each day.

One protester crossed permit boundaries and was arrested at the weigh station in Franklin. Despite the protests, hunters dismissed the criticism.

“These people are out of touch, there’s too many bears in this area,” hunter Bruce Levendusky told CBS 2’s Christine Sloan.

A greater number were being 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.

Environmental Protection Department officials felt it was too a dangerous a spot for a large gathering.

A hunter brought the first bear into the Franklin Borough weigh station about 9:30 a.m., as well as a cub weighing 78 pounds on Monday, 1010 WINS’ Steve Sandberg reported.

“The hunt is nothing but a trophy hunt for hunters to bring home rugs, mounts and wall trophies. That’s the only thing this hunt is,” said Angie Metler of the Animal Protection League of New Jersey.

“They’re in my backyard a lot, and I have a young daughter, always aware of her being out there with the bear,” said hunter Fred Hasert.

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(TM and © Copyright 2011 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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