New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy doubled down on his support for a regulated bear hunt just hours after an appellate court judge issued an emergency stay temporarily halting the hunt, which was set to begin Monday.

The Democrat initially promised to end the practice when he ran for governor, and suspended it after the 2020 season. But he cited a 237% increase in reported bear sightings this year when he announced his administration’s plans to reinstate a black bear hunt later this fall.

Murphy responded to a listener’s question on how the state tabulates the black bear population during his monthly call-in show, “Ask Governor Murphy," a collaboration of NPR member stations WNYC, WHYY and WBGO. The show was hosted by WBGO news director Doug Doyle, who was subbing in for WNYC's Nancy Solomon.

“I was convinced [previously] by experts that nonlethal means were sufficient to control the population, those nonlethal means have not worked sufficiently,” Murphy said. “The Department of Environmental Protection and their team are responsible for keeping tabs on the population. It’s possible, you might double count here or there. But the numbers are so overwhelming, it’s not double counting.”

Murphy did not directly address the emergency stay.

“More importantly, here’s what we do know for sure: The incidents that involve humans and bears are up dramatically this year over last year,” he said.

The emergency stay is a win for animal rights and environmentalist groups, who consider the bear hunt inhumane and politically motivated.

A legal filing by three animal rights groups — the Animal Protection League of New Jersey, the Humane Society of the United States, and Friends of the Animals — argues New Jersey doesn't have an accurate estimate of the bear population that would justify bringing back a hunt.

This story originally appeared on WHYY. Louis C. Hochman contributed reporting.