Hunters killed a total of 472 bears in New Jersey during the week that just ended. This number is significantly greater than the number recorded during last year’s annual hunt. Authorities organize this annual hunt with the hope that it will help in curbing the black bear population of the state. However, as expected the act is tagged as “inhumane” by the nation’s animal-rights activists.

According to numbers obtained till Saturday, hunters succeeded in killing approximately 18% of the state’s current bear population. The state officials have extended this year’s hunt by another four days. The hunters will continue with their job all through this week; operations will be ending on Saturday.

The environmental officials of New Jersey began this bear hunt project five years back with the aim of controlling the state’s black bear population. According to information provided by the officials, the current black bear population of the state is around 3,500, which is more 350 times higher than the population of the animal during the 1970s (during the 70s, the state had less than 100 black bears).

The state is such a big favorite of the black bears because the large forests here are perfect habitats of these animals. According to biologists, these forests allow female black bears to produce much larger litters that all other parts of the United States.

The first hunt was organized in 2010, during which hunters managed to kill a total of 592 black bears. However, the year 2014 saw the number of bears killed go down notably; last year, the hunters succeeded in killing just 272 of these animals.

Must Read: Hunters kill more bears in New Jersey

For the rekindling interest of the hunters, the state’s Department of Environmental Protection has expanded the total area for this year’s black bear hunt to 1,600 sq. miles (earlier it was 1,000 sq. miles). The said area includes a total of eight counties. The duration of this year’s hunt is also more than that of previous years; the earlier years saw the hunt continue for 6 days while the 2015 hunt is of 10 days.

According to the environmental officials of the state, by introducing these changes, they are just trying to create a balance between the black bear population in New Jersey and the amount of habitat available currently and reduce the level of negative interactions between humans and bears.