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Black Bears Move In On N.J. Neighborhood

Black Bears

A New Jersey family was stunned to find a family of brazen black bears playing like little children on their lawn on July 29, 2010.

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HIGHLAND LAKES, N.J. (CBS 2) — Too close for comfort.

Residents of one New Jersey town said they’re used to seeing black bears near their homes, but not like this.

An entire family of the wild animals were captured on video playing and lounging where children had just been moments before.

Ushanti Gerri shot the video Tuesday afternoon, shocked to see bear cubs at play only steps from her back door. Not just two, but three of them, standing on their hind legs, sparring, exploring, acting like children, under the watchful eye of their very large mother. The bear family spent more than a half hour playing among the sandboxes and toys laid out for her kids.

The sighting has changed everything about how she and her family are spending the summer, CBS 2’s Lou Young has learned.

“It’s scary to go outside and to make sure the kids are safe. Who wants to be a prisoner in their own house?” Gerri said.

There are woods around here, but it’s not like they’re in the middle of a forest. It’s the middle of a development. There are neighbors everywhere and the bears come right in and make themselves at home. They’re particularly fond of the kids’ toys. The balls have baby bear bite marks on them. It’s interesting but a little unsettling.

The man of the house worries now about heading off the work in the morning. Brian Gerri bought the Sussex County place in 1997 and said the bears have never been so numerous or so bold but remembers a lull in such encounters after the last state sanctioned bear hunt five years ago.

“After the last bear hunt, yeah, we really didn’t see them for probably a whole year and a half to two years and after that the population grew again. They say there’s 3,500 bear now and if you have half of them have two of three cubs, how many you gonna have next year?” Brian Gerri said.

New Jersey has a bear hunt scheduled for this coming December. The Gerris hope it helps gives them a little more room to live.

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