Despite a flurry of last-minute legal wrangling, New Jersey’s first bear hunt in five years is set to kick off today.

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Despite 11th-hour bids by animal rights activists this past week to postpone the state’s first black bear hunt in five years, the hunt will begin tomorrow morning as scheduled and run through to Saturday, Dec. 11. On Friday, the Appellate Division of the Superior Court of New Jersey denied an appeal to stay the bear hunt in a lawsuit that was filed Tuesday by the West Milford -based Bear Education and Resource (BEAR) Group and the Animal Protection League of New Jersey (APLNJ).
_The BEAR Group and APLNJ had filed a lawsuit this past week asking the Superior Court Appellate Division to stop the hunt. In the lawsuit, the anti-bear hunt groups claimed that the state Comprehensive Black Bear Management Policy (CBBMP), which authorizes the hunt as a means of reducing the population, is loaded with faulty scientific information. They contend that for years, the state Division of Fish and Wildlife (DFW) has used inconsistent methods to collect bear complaints and has thus exaggerated the problem. They also contended that the policy was adopted illegally, because it ignored public comments that ran by a more than 3-to-1 ratio against the bear hunt.

The lawsuit maintained that the state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) violated the Administrative Procedures Act (APA), which holds that public comment should be given a “meaningful role” in any rule adoption by the state._