Bear encounters around New Jersey increase as bears wake from hibernation
New Jersey’s black bear population has awoken from its hibernation slumber, leading to an increase in encounters with humans.
A recent video sent to News 12 New Jersey shows a Black bear clinging to a telephone pole at a busy Wyckoff intersection on Sunday. The 10-second clip still has the whole town talking.
High school student Will Petrie was the one who filmed the clip while riding in the car with his mother.
“’Oh my gosh, there’s a bear.’ And my mom was like, ‘No there’s not.’ And I was like, ‘Look, look.’ She freaked out,” says Petrie.
But he kept his phone steady as they drove by and watched the bear.
“We didn’t want it to get hurt because it looked like it couldn’t really stay on the pole for much longer,” Petrie says.
Bear sightings are up about 80% just through April. Cases of damage or bears being too close for comfort have more than doubled.
New Jersey’s wildlife experts warned about this. Before hibernation, the Fish and Game Council approved an emergency order for a bear hunt. But Gov. Phil Murphy ignored that order, keeping his vow to end the black bear hunt in New Jersey.
A woman in Sussex County was attacked by a bear on May 11 while checking her mail. A bear also attacked another person in Sparta back in January. And a man in Blairstown told News 12 that a bear went on a rampage in his backyard in April, killing his chickens.
But Wyckoff residents do not seem to mind the bear sightings.
“Not at all. I mean, we have little kids, so of course, we gotta be careful," says Wyckoff resident Joe Cestaro.
He runs a business around the corner from where the Wyckoff bear was seen. He says he thought the video was fake.
And it wasn’t the only bear sighting the Petrie family had on Sunday. Will Petrie says his brother recorded another video around the same time of a bear near a pond.
Wyckoff police say when this happens, they just want to keep people and the bear safe. Eventually, the bear came down from the pole and ran away. But when these encounters get violent, wildlife officials set traps, in an effort to capture and kill the bear.