EDISON - New Jersey wildlife officials said yesterday that 591 bears were killed during the state's six-day bear hunt last week.

The hunt, New Jersey's first since 2005, is part of the state Department of Environmental Protection's bear management policy.

Wildlife officials have said the hunt, which ended at dusk on Saturday, was needed to reduce a black bear population now thought to number about 3,400.

Two of the killed bears weighed more than 700 pounds and dozens weighed more than 600 pounds. Last year, 80 bears were killed by cars and another 30 were killed for being aggressive. The state has trained more than 900 police officers to specifically handle the animals and the threats they may pose.

Opponents contend the policy was improperly developed. The Animal Protection League of New Jersey and the Bear Education and Resource Group had asked the state Supreme Court to halt the hunt, but state Supreme Court Justice Edwin Stern turned down the request.

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