The first three days of the six-day hunt that began a half hour before sunrise are restricted to hunters using archery. Beginning Thursday, they can use archery and muzzleloading rifles.
The second segment of the hunt, for firearms only, is scheduled to begin on Dec. 7.
The hunt is restricted to Sussex, Warren, Passaic, Morris, Bergen, Hunterdon, Somerset and Mercer counties. Hunting is prohibited in state parks, forests and wildlife management areas.
Hunters bagged 315 bears during the 2019 hunt. Most were killed in Sussex County.
Gov. Phil Murphy has said this year could be the last for the bear hunt, which he promised to end when he ran for governor in 2017. Murphy cited a new bear management plan that the state Fish and Game Council was studying.
Due to the coronavirus pandemic, no bear check stations are available. Hunters must tag their kills and call a number for instructions.
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(© Copyright 2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)