TRENTON, N.J., July 21 (UPI) -- New Jersey authorities say they've approved the state's first bear hunt in five years as part of a plan to deal with an overpopulation of black bears.
The hunt joins other non-lethal measures in an effort to deal with problems caused by the bears, particularly in the northern parts of the state, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported Wednesday.
The bear population in northwestern New Jersey has grown from 500 in 1992 to more than 3,400 today, the state Department of Environmental Protection said.
"It is clear that a historical rise in public complaints regarding black bears is correlated with the growing bear population," DEP Commissioner Bob Martin said in a statement. "This public safety issue cannot be ignored.
"Although I respect that some New Jersey residents are opposed to hunting bears," Martin said, "hunting is the only proven and most cost-effective method of wildlife population control and it is utilized successfully by other states with viable bear populations."
The black bear hunt would coincide with the six-day deer-hunting season in December, the Inquirer said.