EDISON - Officials say 264 black bears have been killed on the first day of New Jersey's first bear hunt since 2005.

Department of Environmental Protection spokesman Larry Ragonese says hunters took a mix of males, females and cubs weighing between 140 and 360 pounds. As many as 700 bears are expected to be killed in the weeklong hunt.

The six-day hunt got under way just before sunrise yesterday. Wildlife officials say the hunt is needed to reduce a black bear population now thought to number about 3,400.

A Superior Court judge kept in place a limit yesterday on the number of hunt protesters at two wildlife areas in northwestern New Jersey.

The DEP set a limit of 25 protesters at the Pequest Wildlife Management Area in Warren County and Whittingham Wildlife Management Area in Sussex County. Judge Stephen Skillman agreed.

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