Outdoor Life Online Editor

Hunters will be able to shoot bears for six days, within a 1,600-square-mile territory in northern New Jersey, starting December 5.

328 bears were killed in 2003 when New Jersey held its first bear hunt in 33 years. The pressure to have a bear hunt overcame questions and debates about whether hunting is the only way to effectively reduce the bear population.

This season is in response to peak records of bears killing pets or breaking into homes for food in the northern part of the state. Bears have damaged property nearly 1,000 times so far this year, almost 25 percent more incidents than in all of last year, according to state officials.

In 2004 state environmental chief Bradley Campbell took the state Fish and Game Council to court, favoring other means to control the bears. The state Supreme Court ruled that no hunt could be held in absence of planning that offered an overall approach for dealing with bears.

This year Campbell supported the hunt. The state has a proper management plan now, although several environmental groups disagree with the intentions and accuracy of it.