Northwest New Jersey residents voice concerns over close encounters with black bears
Residents in Northwest New Jersey are growing increasingly concerned following a series of close encounters with black bears, particularly in the Oak Ridge neighborhood.
Longtime resident Donald Bagnoli has coexisted with the local bear population for many years, but recently the creatures have ventured too close for comfort. "The bears in this neighborhood are very close to our houses. Very close. Just at the edge of our backyards," Bagnoli said.
A family of bears has even constructed a den under some fallen tree stumps in the woods behind Bagnoli's house, the same woods where his grandchildren used to play. "They never cleared those trees, and that's where they have their homes," Bagnoli explained.
As new families move into the neighborhood, worries about the bear population are escalating. New resident Ken Scudero has become vigilant about observing the woods while outside with his dog and young son.
"Constantly keeping your head on a swivel to make sure you don't have a bear lurking in the trees somewhere," Scudero said. He noted that the bears appear less fearful of humans than they were in the past, with some even standing on their hind legs and roaring.
Although Scudero and his wife have installed a fence as a precaution, he and Bagnoli remain concerned and wonder what measures are needed for a safer coexistence with the local bear population.
"We don't want to wait for something to happen to a young kid walking through the woods," Bagnoli stressed.
Bagnoli has contacted the New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife about his concerns. While the department has relocated bears in the past, Bagnoli has been informed there are now limited areas where bears can be relocated.
Like many in his neighborhood, Bagnoli emphasizes that he doesn't want harm to come to the bears but insists on the safety of children and pets in the area. The residents are now looking to state officials to help keep the bears at a safe distance.