New Jersey’s extended bear hunt is finally coming to a close.
The second and final phase of the hunt will conclude 30 minutes after sunset on Saturday.
The initial six-day hunt started Dec. 7. But state wildlife officials extended the season by four days after the number of bears harvested during the hunt fell short of goals.
Officials say 472 bruins were killed during the initial hunt. Another 29 have been harvested since the hunt resumed Wednesday.
The state recently expanded the areas where hunting is allowed to all or portions of Hunterdon, Passaic, Morris, Somerset, Sussex, and Warren counties, and parts of Bergen and Mercer counties.
Wildlife officials say the annual hunt is an important part of their bear management plan and helps control the bruin population. Activists and other critics contend it’s inhumane and unnecessary.