A wildlife management weigh-in station for bears tagged in New Jersey’s annual bear hunt became the site of a stand-off recently between hunters and animal rights activists. 

As the hunters filed in with their pickup trucks to have their animals weighed, sampled and tagged by officials with the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, anti-hunting activists lined the other side of the highway.

“This is legalized murder,” shouted one protester according to New Jersey Advance Media.

The bear hunt in New Jersey has been a thing in the state since 2010, but anti-hunting groups still haven’t gotten used to it after the hunt was outlawed in the state for many years. Increased human-bear interactions led wildlife officials to reinstate the hunt. 

For the next few weeks at least, black bears in the state are fair game. And that includes famed Pedals the bear who is frequently spotted walking on its hind legs through New Jersey neighborhood. 

According to the DEP, the bear hunt is the most effective way to control the bear population. No amount of behavior changes — such as incorporating bear-proof garbage containers and refusing to feed local bears — will do anything to stop them from reproducing. 

“Because we have such a dense population in the northwest part of the state, they are moving out from that and expanding their range,” Stanko said. “We’ve had sightings in all counties in New Jersey,” Carole Stanko, acting chief of the DEP’s Bureau of Wildlife Management, told NJ.com.

The actual bears taken have dropped dramatically since the first bear hunt in 2010 when 592 bears were harvested. Last year just 272 bears were taken. 

Photo credit: Dreamstime