NEWTON, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) — Hunters are heading out across parts of New Jersey for the second half of this year’s bear hunt.

The firearm-only hunt started Monday morning and is scheduled to last through Saturday, but could end early depending on how many bears are culled.

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Hunters killed 549 bears during October’s six-day hunt, which was limited to bows and arrows and muzzle-loading guns.

New Jersey approved resuming the bear hunt in 2003 after more than 30 years as a way to curb a growing population that was increasingly crossing paths with humans.

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Animal rights’ groups and lawmakers said the hunt causes more problems and is “inhumane.”

Opponents are rallying behind the apparent death of Pedals, a bipedal bear and internet celebrity believed to be killed in October’s hunt.

“This is nothing more than a slaughter, an unnecessary slaughter, of a beautiful animal,” Sen. Ray Lesniak, who sponsored Pedals’ Law which would ban bear hunts altogether in the Garden State. The law would also call for non-lethal means to control the population, including birth control and distribution of bear-resistant containers.

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