Bergenfield black bears not a threat, DEP says
A black baby bear spotted by many around Bergenfield is not a threat, according to the DEP.
Bergenfield Police said there were many bear sightings on Sunday but all are believed to all be the same 60-pound bear. The bear was spotted on the western grounds of the Knickerbocker Country Club and in the surrounding neighborhoods of Highland Avenue, Pleasant Avenue and Ford Court. The bruin is likely following Meltzer Brook, according to police.
The DEP's Wildlife Division said that while the bear isn't a threat, residents should not approach the bear as it could become aggressive if it feels threatened. Trash can lids should be tightened up and bird feeders should be brought inside, the DEP suggests. The bear should eventually return to its natural habitat, it said.
Bears encountering humans have been problematic in the past year in New Jersey. Ramapo Mountain State Forest was closed after bears were unusually aggressive on hiking trails. Four bears that did not seem fearful of humans were put down by the DEP.
Last December a Boonton Boy Scout leader was attacked by a black bear while he lead a group through Splitrock Reservoir last December.
New Jersey’s only known fatal bear attack was in 2014, when Darsh Patel was hiking with four friends in the Apshawa Preserve, and the group noticed a bear following them. The group scattered and a search team found Patel’s body, which showed signs of a bear attack afterward.
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.