A black bear was spotted roaming in an Ocean County township Thursday morning, authorities say.
Stafford Township police say they received a report of a black bear near the Manahawkin Regal Cinema on Route 72 at 10:30 a.m.
When authorities arrived, the bear was found resting in a tree near the sighting location. Police say that after some time, the bear climbed down the tree and headed toward the Stafford Forge Wildlife Preserve.
Shortly after, according to police, a bear was spotted in the Cedar Run section of the township.
Authorities say they are monitoring the area closely and ask that the public reports any sightings to 609-597-8581.
The spotting isn’t too unusual for Ocean County. According to reports on Jersey Shore Hurricane News, bears have been spotted in Manchester, Howell, Jackson, and Lakewood in recent years.
And the state has reported sightings in all four Shore counties.
According to New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife, the black bear territory has expanded steadily from the mountains of northwest New Jersey down to the coastal plain.
They’re now found in all 21 counties, expanding southward from 1995, although most still live in the northwestern portion of the state.
State wildlife officials say they use “an integrated approach to managing New Jersey’s black bear population, fostering coexistence between people and bears.”
They say the most common problem residents experience is black bears rummaging through garbage — bears are wary of people — so officials say to properly secure all refuse.
State regulations prohibit police from using lethal force on any animals that do not pose an immediate threat to the public.
The New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife provides safety tips:
- Never feed or approach a bear! Remain calm if you encounter a bear. Do not run from it. Make the bear aware of your presence by speaking in an assertive voice, singing, clapping your hands, or making other noises.
- Make sure the bear has an escape route. If a bear enters your home, provide it with an escape route by propping all doors open.
- Avoid direct eye contact, which may be perceived by a bear as a challenge.
- Never run from a bear. Instead, slowly back away.
- To scare the bear away, make loud noises by yelling, banging pots and pans or using an airhorn. Make yourself look as big as possible by waving your arms. If you are with someone else, stand close together with your arms raised above your head.
- The bear may utter a series of huffs, make popping jaw sounds by snapping its jaws and swat the ground. These are warning signs that you are too close. Slowly back away, avoid direct eye contact and do not run.
- If a bear stands on its hind legs or moves closer, it may be trying to get a better view or detect scents in the air. It is usually not a threatening behavior.
- Black bears will sometimes “bluff charge” when cornered, threatened or attempting to steal food. Stand your ground, avoid direct eye contact, then slowly back away and do not run. If the bear does not leave, move to a secure area.
- Families who live in areas frequented by black bears should have a “Bear Plan” in place for children, with an escape route and planned use of whistles and air horns.
- Black bear attacks are extremely rare. If a black bear does attack, fight back!
- Report black bear damage or nuisance behavior to the DEP’s 24-hour, toll-free hotline at 1-877-WARN DEP (1-877-927-6337).