Longest N.J. bear hunt resumes with four bears killed Wednesday

Four bears were killed Wednesday as the N.J. bear hunt resumed after a three-day break.

A total of 386 bears have been killed in the 2017 hunt that, on Wednesday, became the longest since the state ended a three-decade moratorium in 2003.

Hunters are returning to the woods Thursday for a 14th day. The hunt will conclude Saturday, with protesters again planning to gather across the street from a check station in Fredon.

The state Department of Environmental Protection announced on Sunday a 4-day extension of the hunt.

DEP officials said the reason was that only 21 of the 135 bears that were “tagged,” or documented, prior to the hunt had been killed — six fewer than the 20 percent threshold in the regulations for avoiding an extension.

None of the 4 bears brought to check stations on Wednesday were tagged, according to DEP.

Until this year, the longest of the 10 hunts since 2003 was in 2016, when a record 636 bears were killed over 12 days split between October and December. Last year was the first in which hunting was extended beyond the traditional six-day season in December.

The 2017 hunt, the eighth in a row under Gov. Chris Christie, is drawing additional attention because Gov.-elect Phil Murphy has said he will halt it next year.

Hunting is permitted in eight northern counties.

Rob Jennings may be reached at rjennings@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @RobJenningsNJ. Find NJ.com on Facebook

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