Ramapo State Forest reopens after four bears killed
Ramapo Mountain State Forest has reopened after a two-week closure over unusual bear activity.
Division of Fish and Wildlife biologists have concluded that the some of the black bears in the 4,200 acre park had been become more aggressive toward humans because they had become habituated to people — likely because they had been fed by park visitors and nearby property owners.
Over the past several weeks there have been incidents in which bears followed groups as they hiked on the trails. Four bears were put down by the DEP and traps were set.
Signs have been posted in the forest reminding visitors that feeding bears is illegal and contribute to their aggressive behavior.
The Division of Fish and Wildlife offers the following tips when hiking in bear country:
• Never feed or approach a bear.
• Make your presence on the trail known by speaking loudly, singing, clapping your hands, or making other noises.
• Remain calm if you encounter a bear. Do not run from it. Do not make direct eye contact with the bear, as this may be perceived as a challenge. Slowly back away.
• Make sure the bear has an escape route.
• If the bear continues to follow you or is otherwise undeterred, make loud noises by yelling, blowing a whistle, banging pots and pans, or using an air horn, if available. Make yourself look as big as possible by waving your arms. If you are with someone else, stand close together with your arms raised above your head.
• If a bear stands on its hind legs or moves closer, it may be trying to get a better view or detect scents in the air. It is usually not a threatening behavior.
• The bear may utter a series of huffs, make popping jaw sounds by snapping its jaws and swat the ground. These are warning signs that you are too close. Slowly back away, avoid direct eye contact and do not run.
• Black bears will sometimes “bluff charge” when cornered, threatened or attempting to steal food. Stand your ground, avoid direct eye contact, then slowly back away and do not run.
• Black bear attacks are extremely rare. However, if one does attack, fight back. Do not “play dead.”
• If you see a bear, in particular one that does not show much fear, immediately contact local police or the Department of Environmental Protection’s hotline at (877) 927-6337, or (877) WARN-DEP.