TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — New Jersey wildlife officials are issuing new permits for the state's next black bear hunt.

The six-day hunt is scheduled to take place between Dec. 9 and Dec. 14 in four designated areas. Hunters are limited to only one bear for the season.

The deadline to apply for permits was Oct. 15, but the permit claim season began Monday. Any that go unclaimed will be up for sale on Thursday at license agents and online..

This year's hunt is the fourth consecutive state-sanctioned one. It is part of a plan to control the state's black bear population, which grew to about 3,000 in the hunting area last year.

Hunts were also held in 2003 and 2005.

The hunts annually attract protesters.

Last year, 6,400 hunters participated.

There were 287 bears killed during last year's hunt. Most were in Sussex County. That total was down from 2010 and 2011, when the kills totaled over 400.

Hunters who bag bears must take them to designated stations where biological data on the bears are recorded.