TRENTON, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — The New Jersey Department of Fish and Wildlife has announced that this year’s annual state-mandated bear hunt will be extended for an additional four days.

The second phase of the hunt will start a half an hour before sunrise on Wednesday, Dec. 16 and will end after sunset on Dec. 19, according to officials.

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New Jersey’s annual hunt began on Dec. 7. While above-average temperatures brought out a larger number of hunters and an initially strong start to the season, a study conducted by the Department of Fish and Wildlife found yields to be below their policy’s recommended 20 percent rate –prompting the four-day extension in compliance with policy guidelines.

As of Wednesday, 366 bears had 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.

Environmental Commissioner Bob Martin said 472 bears were harvested during the hunt, WCBS 880’s Stephanie Colombini reported.

The goal for this year is 800.

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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.

According to officials, hunters who have already successfully established harvested kills in this year’s hunt are not allowed to continue hunting during the extension. Mandatory bear check stations in Newton, Oxford and Rockaway will be open for  hunters who will be participating in the upcoming second wave.

Animal rights activists who already protested the first hunt are not happy. A group with the Animal Protection League of New Jersey tweeted that they plan to hold a vigil when the second phase of the season begins, as well as on the final day of the hunt.

 

 

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