MAHWAH, N.J.(CBSNewYork) — Unusual black bear behavior has been shutting down hot spots for hikers in Bergen County.
At the Ramapo Mountain State Forest, police were standing watch, caution tape cut off parking, and signs prominently placed beside trail heads alerted visitors that the park was closed because bears were acting out of character.READ MORE: Commuters Say Traffic In New York City Is An Accident Waiting To Happen
“I was surprised to see on the news there was an aggressive bear,” Tom Powers told CBS2’s Vanessa Murdock.
Three hikers reported being pursued, but escaped unharmed.
Another hiker reported a bear repeatedly approached and swatted at him, the hiker defended himself with pepper spray.
The woods have been blocked off for more than a week. Traps have been set and one bear has been euthanized.
On Wednesday, hikers showed up to find trails blocked.
“I was surprised today, they were just open the other day,” Daniel Porsch said.READ MORE: NYPD Hosts Block Party In Same Mount Eden Neighborhood Where Children Were Caught In Middle Of Gunfire
The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection told CBS that it’s not taking any chances after another encounter at the reservation on Saturday.
Eight hikers feared for their lives as a black bear chased them. On Tuesday, the DEP advised Bergen County to close off access.
“I think it’s probably a good idea, some people don’t always do the smart thing,” Tom Powers said, “It’s part of being in the woods, honestly. That’s why I have my dogs with me, they scare them away.”
The normally bustling parking lot was quiet on Wednesday, but CBS2’s cameras did spot a runner along the empty trails, and some people walking their dogs.
“We’re going for a walk, that’s what we’re going to do,” Sue Georgia said, “We’ll be cautious. I don’t know if I’ll go all the way in like I normally do. I’ll be careful”
Careful may not cut it. The DEP told CBS2 that it has major concerns about bears getting too comfortable with people. Most likely because people are feeding them illegally. Closing trails limits interaction and hopefully restores a balance between man and nature.MORE NEWS: Bear Spotted Roaming Connecticut Neighborhood
There was no word as to when the park would re-open. Hikers were encouraged to use trails at nearby Campgaw Mountain in the meantime.