PARAMUS - A rally against New Jersey’s annual bear hunt was held in Paramus Saturday afternoon.

The hunt, intended to manage the bear population and reduce encounters with the public, begins Monday and will last all week in seven New Jersey counties.

advertisement | advertise on newsday

Last year the Department of Environmental Protection says 287 bears were killed. The agency expects a similar number will be killed during this year’s hunt.

The DEP says bear sightings are down 21 percent this year. It says the reduced sightings are a sign that its five-year plan to reduce the number of bears in the state is working.

Each year, the agency issues licenses allowing a set number of hunters to kill one bear each. The DEP says nearly 7,000 hunters have obtained bear hunting permits.

Protesters, who lined Route 17 in Paramus, say officials should enforce garbage can laws, which attract bears to public areas. They are calling the hunt an inhumane and unnecessary process.

The hunt ends on Dec. 14.