PARAMUS, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — What is it with black bears and northern Jersey?
A day after a bear was spotted lounging in a tree in nearby Paramus, Chopper 2 was following one around a residential area in Ridgewood on Tuesday. Animal control officers later told CBS2’s Marc Liverman that it was, indeed, the same bear.
On Tuesday, the bear went out for a stroll in a residential area near Kenilworth Road and Ridgewood Avenue, maneuvering between homes and in and out of wooded areas. Every once in a while it would take off on a gallop, only to slow down to survey the situation on various properties.
“The police came by and they said, ‘go back in the house,’ and I didn’t take them seriously. And the guy said, ‘there’s a bear,’ and I was walking my dog, so I went back in,” resident Alexa Topolski told Liverman.
At one point, the bear went around one house and nearly came eye-to-eye with a dog, but it quickly moved on. Later, it was seen climbing over a picket fence before crossing a street.
“There is a perfect habitat. He had a pool, a little pond, he had some berries. He was very happy — not that they put food out — he just had found some things,” said animal control officer Carol Tyler.
The bear made its way up a red-leaved tree, as police officers and animal control officials converged on the scene. The 125-pound bruin was eventually tranquilized, tagged and was taken away by animal control officers.
“When he started hanging out in schools and he’s approaching humans looking for food, so he’s been (indoctrinated) to a wrong kind of training. So they’ll condition him, put him out where there’s no humans and see if he learns to stay there,” Tyler said.
Ridgewood High School, Somerville Elementary School and a nearby nursery school were placed on lockdown while animal control took care of the bear. It will be released into the wild somewhere in western New Jersey, CBS2’s Liverman reported.
“I’m actually a big fan of bears and these stories, so it was great to have it in my own backyard. I feel really lucky,” said Topolski.
Officials believe the bear traveled down the Saddle River to Ridgewood — a long journey for a bear finally on its way back home.
Animal control said the next few months are when we’ll see the highest number of bears, because they are coming out of hibernation.