Police Have Their Hands Full With NJ Bears

njherald.com, Bear Hunting Magazine
04/24/2008

A Lake Wanda man, investigating a noise in his house, came face to face with a bear rummaging through his kitchen trash and escaped through a bedroom window to call police from a neighbor's home.

A responding officer spotted the bear in the front yard of the home, still eating garbage. The officer fired once at the bear and believed he hit the animal, but the bruin ran off into the woods. A search of the area couldn't find any trace of blood or hair, and a follow-up search could not find the bear. Neighbors said that earlier in the week the resident mentioned finding muddy bear paws on his front door.

While that bear apparently escaped, technicians from the state Division of Fish and Wildlife did "condition" another bear Monday that was captured in one of four culvert traps set up in the area. In all, three bears have been caught in the traps set up in the area since last Wednesday when bear activist Susan Kehoe, who lives in the neighborhood, was accused of feeding bears.

Larry Herrighty, assistant director of Fish and Wildlife, said that during the investigation of the feeding of bears, conservation officers have seen up to 15 bears at a time around Kehoe's home, located at the end of Nutley Avenue and adjacent to Wawayanda State Park.

It is unusual for that many bears to congregate together, he noted, "But they seem to tolerate each other, probably because of the food."

Monday's capture was a 220-pound male that had not been tagged before, meaning it was the first time wildlife technicians had been close to the animal. Herrighty said the bruin was tranquilized as genetic information, including blood and a tooth sample, were collected. The animal was then tagged with a very visible ear tag and given "aversive conditioning."

In "aversive conditioning," technicians, using shotguns loaded with rubber buckshot, shot the animal several times as they persuade it to return to the state park.

When state Commissioner of Environmental Protection Lisa Jackson canceled the black bear hunt in 2006, she said the state needed further study on the black bear population. Again last year, while rejecting a black bear management plan proposed by the state Fish and Game Council, she put forth her own plan, which called for more studies before she would even consider reinstating a hunt while many residents are feeling the effects of the hunting ban negatively with break ins and trash being tossed about by hungry bears.

Kehoe, who is among those who have fought against a hunt, is due to appear in Vernon Municipal Court early next month to answer the disorderly conduct charge lodged as a result of her alleged feeding of the bears. She also was issued a written warning against feeding bears and, if caught a second time, would face a criminal charge.



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