2005_11_science_bearhunt.jpg While Gothamist rarely ventures west of the Hudson (Hoboken excluded) the current bear hunt in Vernon, NJ caught our attention. In an attempt to thin out New Jersey's ursine overpopulation, a 6-day hunting season began today which brought out nearly 5,000 hunters to the state's northwest. As in 2003, animal rights groups attempted to block the event, to little success. Although we're not thrilled about the event, we're at least relieved that the hunters are required to rely on shotguns or more old fashioned rifles, and not more modern, laser-guided weapons that make the "sport" even less fair for the animals. Supporters claim the booming number of bears (now estimated to be 1,600 - 3,200) and limited land have forced them to venture into human territory, including local backyards and swimming pools. As of this afternoon, 54 bears had been killed. How do you feel about the event?

For more information on bear hunting, visit the NJ Fish and Wildlife site and the Bear Education and Research site.