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Sussex County Residents: Bears Are Everywhere

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VERNON, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — New Jersey’s bear population is booming, leaving some residents complaining they feel unsafe outside their homes.

As CBS 2’s Steve Langford reported, Howard Greenblatt is on a crusade against all the black bears that roam in and around Vernon, in Sussex County.

He took Langford for a drive around his condo complex and within a couple of minutes spotted a bear.

“I don’t want to be attacked by a bear,” Greenblatt said.

“They’re wild animals. They do not belong here, and people are afraid to go out.”

Ed Schneider and his family have a bear skin prominently displayed in their home — a not-so-subtle indication of their feelings about all the bears that visit them.

“They walked right up — walk right up and put their paws right on the window and look in the windows,” he said.

“They look so docile,” Schneider added. “Walk up the steps, and they’re looking at you. Boy, any minute they can become extremely violent.”

However, Mary Ann Thomas and her family, who have lived in the area for decades, welcome the bears.

“The bears were here before we were, so all we do is just stay out of their way,” she said.

“They’re just a joyful thing to see. They’re beautiful, and we’re not afraid of them.”

Greenblatt said if someone wants to see a bear, they should go to the zoo.

Bear-hunting in season in December may have reduced the population in New Jersey, but some in the northwestern part of the state have claimed there are actually more bears.

Unless something is done soon, somebody around Vernon is going to get mauled, Rosenblatt said.

“If you want to go for a walk or jog, go ahead and do it, but I wouldn’t do it,” he said.

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(TM and © Copyright 2014 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2014 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)