TRENTON - Hunters have harvested more bears through two days of New Jersey's expanded 2015 hunt than last year's weeklong combined total.

Hunters harvested 309 bears on Monday and Tuesday, compared to 272 through the entire week last year.

Ninety-three bears were killed Tuesday and 216 on Monday.

State officials recently expanded the areas where hunting is allowed during the six-day event. This year, it is permitted in all or portions of Hunterdon, Passaic, Morris, Somerset, Sussex, and Warren counties, and parts of Bergen and Mercer counties.

New Jersey wildlife officials say the annual hunt is an important part of their bear management plan and helps control the bear population. Activists and other critics contend it is inhumane and unnecessary.

New Jersey resumed bear hunting in 2003 after more than 30 years.