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Over a dozen bears killed on first day of 2018 hunt

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FREDON TOWNSHIP -

Over a dozen bears were killed Monday on the first day of the 2018 black bear hunt.

Wildlife officials said that a total of 16 bears were reported killed as of Monday afternoon.

The hunt officially began shortly before sunrise. It is bow-hunting only until Thursday, followed by muzzle-loading rifles until Saturday.

This year’s hunt is expected to be greatly reduced following an order by Gov. Phil Murphy barring black bear hunting on state-owned lands.

VIDEO: Bear hunt begins in New Jersey but not on state lands
RELATED: Hunters urge town officials to oppose Murphy’s hunting ruling

Bear hunt protesters were kept off to the side. Only five were allowed in a certain area at a time, while a wall of police officers kept things civil.

Some other hunters say that they were disappointed by the governor’s order only allowing hunting on private land.

MORE: Bear-proof trash receptacles could lessen need for hunt

“I don't think it's fair to the hunters. Everyone who pays for their license in the state should have access to all the land that their licenses paid for,” hunter Warren Holste said

Bear hunt opponents were also angry with Gov. Murphy, but for different reasons. Many say that they had hoped that he would ban the bear hunt all together.

"We have the most extreme bear hunt in the country.  This is more extreme than Alaska.  Baby cubs up to 20 pounds, we've seen dead in trucks.  This is just absurd,” said New Jersey Humane Society director Brian Hackett.

The governor made ending the bear hunt a large part of his campaign. The New Jersey Sierra Club says a large reason for their endorsement of him was because of it.

"We've seen Phil Murphy become Flip-flop Phil and this is a flip-flop. That's really shameful because three governors have stopped bear hunts,” said the organization’s director Jeff Tittle.

Another bear hunt is scheduled for December, during which firearms will be allowed.

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