MAHWAH, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — Wildlife officials believe humans may be to blame for aggressive bears tracking hikers in New Jersey.

The unusual black bear activity has forced wildlife officials to shut down areas of Ramapo Mountain State Forest — a popular spot for hikers — and the Ramapo Reservation. Four aggressive black bears have been killed over the last several weeks.

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New Jersey Director of Fish and Wildlife David Chanda believes that people feeding the animals may be a factor, WCBS 880’s Sean Adams reported.

“When it comes to feeding, not only is it dangerous, but it’s illegal,” Chanda said. “And we are out there trying to take a look at and investigate where this might be coming from, because the behavior they’re exhibiting is just not typical behavior.”

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When humans feed wild animals, such as black bears, they become used to the behavior, making them less afraid of humans and more likely to become aggressive, Chanda said.

Wildlife officials are investigating to see if people are feeding the bears. Violators will be prosecuted, with fines up to $1,000.

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“The state has taken it very seriously,” Chanda said.
If followed by a bear, experts say never run — back up make noise or throw rocks. If attacked, fight back — go for the nose and the eyes.