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Bear Sighting Confirmed in Springfield

By on Jul 2 2013.
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Bear Sighting

Bear Sighting

At approximately 7:30 p.m. yesterday, residents at the top of Springfield reported seeing a black bear and notified Police.  Township Police patrolled the area around Far Hills Road but had no luck located the bear.  This morning, starting around 9 a.m., Police pursued a bear in the area around Salter Street.  It is unclear whether it is the same bear.  The bear led police on a foot chase around Salter Street, Tooker Place, Caldwell Place and eventually Mountain Avenue.  At times, police described the bear as “running” before eventually finding a tree behind Kearny Federal Savings Bank.  He climbed up the tree around 9:50 a.m. and Police surrounded him to ensure he did not leave the area.  Sources confirmed that the New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife was called to respond.  Bears are handled by the State and not local animal control offices.  Once in the tree, the bear is unlikely to come down.  It is likely State officials will attempt to coax the bear down or use a tranquilizer and then catch the bear in a net before hauling him to a remote area.

The NJ Division of Fish & Wildlife maintains a website with black bear information.  According to the website, “black bears are the largest land mammal in New Jersey” and they have been sighted in every county of New Jersey.  They also indicate that “black bears by nature tend to be wary of people.”  Some safety tips from the website:

  • Never feed or approach a bear!
  • Remain calm if you encounter a bear.
  • 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!

UPDATE:   At around 10:40 a.m., the New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife indicated they would arrive in Springfield in another 45 minutes to one hour.  They requested a bucket/ladder truck, and assistance from the Fire Department and Public Works Department will likely be needed.

UPDATE:   Just before 11:30 a.m., the first member of the New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife arrived on scene with a rifle and tranquilizers.  He awaited the arrival of the rest of his team in order to set up nets underneath the tree containing the bear.  The Public Works Department was asked to roll away the fence separating the Kearny Federal Savings Bank and Rider Insurance properties.  Police tape was set up around the building and onlookers were asked to move to the sidewalk.  The Fire Department drove one of their ladder trucks closer to the tree so that the shooter could climb and accurately aim at the bear.  Former Springfield Mayor Ziad Andrew Shehady provided live updates on social media.  According to his posts, the bear came down from the tree after being tranquilized and “walked away from the net”.  He traveled through a residential property to Caldwell Place before finally resting on a front lawn.  State officials then carried him away and placed him on a vehicle to be relocated.

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