ROCKAWAY TOWNSHIP - A Rockaway Township family had a close encounter with a 400-pound black bear that decided to take a dip in their backyard pool.
Stacey Dowling says that she and her two children had just left the pool and were eating lunch inside when they heard a splash and saw the bear in the backyard.
"He was having a ball. He was floating around, he actually deflated one of our floats with his claws,” Dowling says.
The bear did not stay long and soon wandered out of the backyard and back to where he came from.
"It's terrifying that a bear that size is in this area. And I have two young children,” Dowling says.
Rockaway Township has had its fair share of bear encounters. Almost exactly one year ago News 12 New Jersey reported about a family of five bears that took a dip in another family’s backyard pool.
A scout leader was injured after he was pulled into a cave and attacked by a bear in December. Several children he was traveling with were able to go get help.
Rockaway Township Mayor Michael Dachisen says that the town gets calls about bears every day.
"See when they're coming down this end of town that means older bears up north are pushing the younger ones and less dominant ones down here,” the mayor says.
Mayor Dachisen says that there are about 20 bears in Rockaway Township. The scout leader was the only report of any bear-related injury in recent memory.
New Jersey officials increased the bag limit for this year’s bear hunt to two bears. One per permit and one per region.