Wildlife officials say a planned halt to New Jersey's bear hunt could double the population of the animals by 2022.
NJ.com reports that the estimate is included in a status report on the state's 2015 bear management policy that was finalized on Jan. 4 and provided Thursday to NJ Advance Media.
Democratic Gov.-elect Phil Murphy, who takes office next week, has said he will halt the bear hunt pending research into other methods for managing the state's bear population.
The state Division of Fish and Wildlife reported that removing hunting "will quickly allow the population to rebound to unacceptable levels."
Bear hunts were reinstituted in 2003 amid protests from animal welfare groups. More than 400 bears were killed in this year's hunt, down from the record 636 killed in 2016.
Information from: NJ.com, http://www.nj.com