Park closed to trap ‘aggressive’ bear in Morris County— officials
A Morris County park was closed on Tuesday, as wildlife officials tried to trap a large bear that they said had been "aggressive" toward visitors earlier.
State Division of Fish and Wildlife responded to Tourne County Park — which spans parts of Denville, Boonton and Mountain Lakes — working with Morris County Park Police.
The black bear is being considered a "category one" threat to the public, under the division's response criteria system first established more than 20 years ago.
Last summer, a black bear was euthanized in Passaic County, after an attack on an 82-year-old man in the garage of his West Milford home.
State officials have said black bear attacks continue to be rare.
The first and only fatal bear-human encounter on record in New Jersey was in 2014, also in West Milford, when a 22-year-old hiker from Edison was killed in the Apshawa Preserve.
The DEP offers several tips on what to do if encountering a black bear in your yard or outdoors while hiking or camping.
- Never feed or approach a bear.
- Remain calm if you encounter a bear. Do not run from it.
- Make the bear aware of your presence by speaking in an assertive voice, singing, clapping your hands, or making other noises.
- Make sure the bear has an escape route.
- If a bear enters your home, provide it with an escape route by propping all doors open.
- Avoid direct eye contact, which may be perceived by a bear as a challenge. Never run from a bear. Instead, slowly back away.
- To scare the bear away, make loud noises by yelling, banging pots and pans or using an airhorn. 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- If the bear does not leave, move to a secure area.
- Report black bear damage or nuisance behavior to the DEP’s 24-hour, toll-free hotline at 1-877-WARN DEP (1-877-927-6337).
- Families who live in areas frequented by black bears should have a “Bear Plan” in place for children, with an escape route and planned use of whistles and air horns.
- Black bear attacks are extremely rare. If a black bear does attack, fight back!