New Jersey's bear hunt underway

December 6, 2010 3:23:44 PM PST
New Jersey's first bear hunt in five years began 30 minutes before sunrise Monday.

Hunters in the state's seven northwest counties have six days to bag one bear of any age or sex.

11-year-old Chase took down a 371 pound bear.

"I got my first bear, and it's big," said Chase Barker, a young hunter.

"I'm proud of him. He got it in one shot," said Chase's father.

Hunters marched into the woods of New Jersey early Monday morning to bag a bear.

Geno DiSario took a 128 pound female two hours into his hunt. He took her in one shot.

"Right through the heart, no suffering for her, she went right down," DiSario said.

6,680 permits have been issued for the weeklong hunt.

"If the weather is good, and hunters get out, we hope to take 375 to 700 bears," said David Chandra, the Director of New Jersey Fish and Wildlife.

"These bears are being slaughtered," an activist said.

Animal rights activists are livid, staging protest outside the checkpoint stations, were the bears are weighed and documented.

Protestors, who aren't allowed inside, wanted to do some documenting of their own.

"These bears that are being killed are babies. Have you seen the size? I want people to see how small they are," said Debbie Kowalski, of the Animal Protection League of New Jersey.

The state approved this first bear hunt in 5 years, saying simply, there are too many bears in the state, about 3,400.

"To put that in perspective, we have more bears per square mile than anywhere else in North America," Chandra said.

Hunters snapped up the permits.

"This was needed, we've got to eliminate some of these bears, I eat the meat," said a hunter.

"Oh, yeah, I bow hunt, they come right up at you, they're not afraid, way too many of them," said Martin Tanis, a hunter.

Protestors plan to be out all week, but they may have a longer fight on their hands.

"This will likely become an annual event," Chandra said.

"This is horrible, they're murdering these animals. This is not going to happen next year!" Kowalski said.