NEWTON, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — New Jersey’s six-day bear hunt started on Monday, and some say this year’s warmer temperatures are leading to higher kill counts than years before.
As of Wednesday, 366 bears have been killed, compared to the 164 killed over the same period of time last year, WCBS 880’s Levon Putney reported. By the end of the 2014 hunt, only 272 bears were killed.
The goal for this year is 800.
State environmental protection spokesman Larry Hanja said rain, snow and cold temperatures have been the norm in past years.
“With the spring-like temperatures out there I think a lot more hunters are taking advantage of the permits that they’ve purchased,” Hanja said. “I think it’s also a clear indication that there are alot of bears out there.”
State officials estimate there are now about 3,500 bears in New Jersey north of Interstate 80, a region known as “bear country.
“We have reports of hunters seeing multiple bears,” Hajna said.
The area of the mandated hunt was expanded this year to include areas of Bloomingdale and Wayne, as well as all of Butler and Pequannock. It is permitted this year in all or portions of Hunterdon, Passaic, Morris, Somerset, Sussex, and Warren counties, and portions of Bergen and Mercer counties.
This is the first year the state has the ability to extend the hunt another week if the 800 kill count quota isn’t met. Despite the hunt’s initial successes, Hajna said they are still evaluating whether an extension will be necessary.
“We still have time to make a decision,” Hajna said.