The day that the annual week-long black bear hunt began in Northern New Jersey, the first two bears were caught in Jefferson and Sparta, according to a press release from the NJDEP.
The first bear, a 165-pound male, was hunted in Jefferson on Monday, by Edwin Mackin of Boonton.
The second bear that was taken in Sparta later in the day was a 124-pound male. He was brought in by Staney Zeveny of Stillwater.
The black bears will be hunted until Saturday to control the state's black bear population. The hunt is held in conjunction with the firearm deer-hunting season.
DEP biologists predict a harvest in this year’s hunt similar to last year, when 469 bears were harvested.
The NJDEP said the reported bear sightings are down this year by 34 percent. Nuisance and damage complaints are down by 26 percent and dangerous bear incidents are down by 43 percent through the end of October.
The Northern New Jersey region has between 2,800 and 3,000 black bears living in the hunting area north of Route 78 and west of Route 287, according to the NJDEP. The number of bears declined from 2010, which was about 3,400.
The hunting this week will take place in portions of a 1,000-square-mile area north of of Route 78 and West of Route 287.
Commissioner of the Comprehensive Black Bear Management Policy Bob Martin said they anticipate a "safe and professionally managed" hunt this season.
“The overall goal is to reduce the number of bears, especially in Northern New Jersey, to a more manageable number, while improving public safety by reducing bear encounters with people. It is our responsibility to properly manage the black bear population.”