SPRINGFIELD, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — There have been several sightings of black bears in a New Jersey town.
Jeff and Jackie Shanes told CBS2’s Meg Baker that they had a ‘too close for comfort’ run-in with a black bear in their Springfield backyard.
They hurried to their back windows and spotted the bear as it ran back into the woods, after it wandered into their yard at around 1 p.m. on Sunday.
“You look up, there’s a bear, you usually don’t see that. We’ve been living here a number of years and you usually don’t see that. We’ve seen everything but,” Jeff said.
Their son was out front along Little Brook road with their dog Eddie when he got a surprise.
“My son leaned down to pick up the tug of war rope and when he stood up he saw there was a bear on all fours sitting by our generator about 20-25 feet away,” Jackie said.
Their neighborhood backs up to the Watchung Reservoir in Union County.
Wanting to protect Eddie first, the Shanes said their son grabbed the dog, yelled, and backed up towards the front door. It’s exactly what expert tracker John Nesti, said you should do in that situation.
“We would take the camera back up, and slowly one person looking at the bear, walk out of the woods, over to the house,” he said.
Black bears are not aggressive unless provoked. Experts say never make eye contact, and never run.
“A little bit of clapping, a little bit of yelling, and the bear will leave you alone,” Nesti said.
A search for fresh tracks turned up prints left by deer, bears, and coyotes.
Nesti said that after hibernating bears run natural corridors like the flattened path in the reservoir that runs along I-78, looking for food.
Another way to track a bear is to look for old stumps or rocks that have been tossed over by a hungry bear looking for insects to eat.
“We just found an overturned log before. Bears looking for grubs,” Nesti said, “To them it’s like candy.”
On Friday, there was another sighting in town. Springfield police captured a photo of a black bear in a tree near Baltusrol Golf Course.
Authorities have advised parents to have a plan in place, and to teach kids about how to react to bears.
“Tell them not to run away, just back away. Have an escape plan that you practice, whistles, air horns,” Chief John Cook said.
If a bear makes itself known in residential areas again, police and New Jersey Fish and Wildlife officials plan to tranquilize and move it back further into the woods.
Springfield police said they get a couple of bear calls a year. They said there has never been a safety issue.