A controversial hunting season has returned to New Jersey.
The first segment to hunt black bears in the state kicked off at noon Monday, according to the state’s Department of Environmental Protection. The hunting season lasts through Saturday, Oct. 14.
Hunting will be allowed starting a half hour before sunrise until a half hour after sunset each day, the DEP said. For the first three days, only archery hunting will be allowed; after that, archery and muzzleloaders will be permitted from Thursday through Saturday.
The difference between muzzleloaders and standard rifle is somewhat obvious: muzzleloaders are loaded through the muzzle of the firearm, while regular rifles are loaded via the breech, closer to the trigger. Muzzleloaders also only have a range of about 100 yards, while standard rifles can be used at ranges twice as far or more.
The next segment for hunting the bears starts Monday, Dec. 4, and lasts through Saturday, Dec. 9 for shotguns and muzzleloaders only.
The state resumed bear hunting in 2022 due to reports of the animals causing property damage and being a nuisance, with reports of those up nearly 240% since 2021.
There are strict rules regarding what bears can and cannot be hunted, as the target must weight more than 75 pounds. Also, any bears in the presence of a cub are not subject to the hunting season.