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Bear Sighting Forces Lockdown Of Three Hackettstown Schools

Black bear spotted in Hackettstown (credit: Hackettstown Police Department)

Black bear spotted in Hackettstown (credit: Hackettstown Police Department)

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HACKETTSTOWN, N.J. (CBSNewYork) – A 200-pound black bear in Hackettstown forced three schools to be locked down Tuesday morning.

The bear was spotted around 7:30 a.m. in a back yard on Warren Street across from the entrance of Hackettstown High School, 1010 WINS’ Steve Sandberg reported.

Police Sgt. Darren Tynan said the bruin did not appear aggressive as children walked to school.

1010 WINS’ Steve Sandberg reports

“We were trying to parallel the bear,” Tynan said. “We had an officer on one side, another officer on the other side just so if it did happen to run out in front of us we could go and grab kids that were in the area or take necessary action.”

Officials followed the bear into the quarry, and then onto the State Fish Hatchery property, police said.

The bear was spotted a short time later on Arthur Terrace, Shelley Drive and in the Minebrook Golf Course on Schooley’s Mountain Road.

The lockdown at Hackettstown High School, Hatchery Hill School and the Hackettstown Middle School was lifted around 11 a.m., police said.

No injuries were reported.

The state’s Department of Environmental Protection’s Division of Fish & Wildlife has been notified.

Bear sightings have been on the rise in New Jersey.

An increase in the Garden State’s bear population and a decrease in the acorns and other nuts the animals rely on are forcing the bears into residential areas at an alarming rate.

State officials have been urging residents to:

  • Bear-proof garbage containers.
  • Feed outdoor pets during daylight hours only; remove food scraps and bowls immediately.
  • Only feed birds from Dec. 1 to April 1 when bears are least active.
  • Don’t leave food unattended while camping or picnicking.
  • Don’t place meat or sweet food scraps in compost piles and never feed a black bear. It is dangerous and against the law.