Gov. Phil Murphy, long an opponent of New Jersey's bear hunts, announced Monday this year's would be the last under his administration.

Addressing what he called a "complex issue," Murphy said the New Jersey Fish and Game Council will take up proposed amendment to the state's game code, suspending the bear hunt after the 2020 season and removing the current bear management policy from the code.

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It would next develop a new black bear policy, focused on non-lethal management techniques.

"The 2020 bear hunt, already limited to a few days in October and December, will be the last bear hunt under my administration," Murphy said.

Murphy had previously said he opposes the hunt but that his hands were tied because the Fish and Game Council enacted a five-year bear management plan in 2015. He did, however, bar it from state lands over the last few years.

Since bear hunting returned in to New Jersey 2003, more than 4,500 bears have been killed.

Though Murphy spoke of the proposed amendment as if it were a certainty, it's still subject to a public hearing and testimony from the public. The state DEP said it would be held virtually via video conferencing software Nov. 4 at  2 p.m.

Written comments can be submitted electronically by Dec. 4. at nj.gov/dep/rules/comments.

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