The first phase of New Jersey's bear hunting season gets underway Monday and continues through Saturday.
The first three days are limited to bow and arrow hunting. For the next three, hunters can also use muzzle-loading rifles.
And a firearms-only hunt is set for early December.
New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection spokesman Robert Geist says 636 bears were culled last year, and the number of interactions between bears and humans dropped dramatically.
"That's a really good thing because when bears tend to stay in their areas and don't invade into areas where humans are more populous, were tend to see less problems. They're less nuisance calls. There's less times when Fish and Wildlife officials have to go out there."
Giest says the hunt is vital to the state's bear management program.
"To remove the hunt of that would take out one of those legs that we're doing. Also making areas bear-safe, continuing bear education for folks living in areas where bears are populated, and trying to make sure that we reduce those interactions."
If he's elected governor, Democrat Phil Murphy says he will stop the bear hunts until there's proof it works better than non-lethal management strategies.