PASSAIC COUNTY, N.J. — Officials with the state Department of Environmental Protection’s Division of Fish and Wildlife euthanized three more bears in the Ramapo Mountain State Forest this week.
The 4,200 acre woods that boarder Bergen and Passaic counties remain closed this week, as they have been since Oct. 5 due to aggressive bear encounters.
“It is extremely uncommon for bears to demonstrate so little fear of humans,” Division of Fish and Wildlife Director David Chanda said in a statement. “We are launching an investigation into why these bears are behaving in this fashion.”
Officials are focusing on whether intentional feeding by people on the trail or on private properties near the park is making these bears bolder. Looped snare traps remain set in the state forest and are being monitored.
On Tuesday, experts trapped and euthanized two black bears in an area where seven hikers have previously reported being chased by bears. These bears showed no sign of being wary of technicians who tended the traps.
Later in the day, a third black bear approached a Division of Fish and Wildlife biologist. This bear also showed signs of being potentially aggressive, would not leave the area and showed no fear of the technician. The technician euthanized this bear.
Reports of aggressive bears in the area began in mid-September when a 21-year-old-woman and a 7-year-old boy reported being followed and chased by a potentially aggressive bear.
In a separate incident the same day, a man reported a bear would not back down and paced in front of him and his dog for several minutes before taking off. The area where the incidents took place was closed off.
On Oct. 3, two more encounters occurred. In the first, three female hikers reported being pursued by a bear. They came upon a man and his dog on the trail. All escaped unharmed. Later that same day, another male hiker reported that a bear swatted at him and pursued him for a distance before relenting.
The Division of Fish and Wildlife trapped and euthanized a bear believed to be involved in the incidents.
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