The small black bear that wandered back and forth across Route 46 on Wednesday came to a bad ending, when he was shot and killed by police, who stated that the animal was creating a hazardous condition on the highway. The BEAR Group, an educational organization that teaches NJ residents how to live responsibly and peacefully with black bears, has called a protest rally for Sunday, July 24, from 10 a.m. to noon at Van Houten and Clifton Avenues, stating that the shooting was an extreme “act of cruelty.”
According to the organization’s chair and co-chair, Eleanor Hoffman and Cathy McCartney, witnesses have reported that the cub wasn’t actually on the road when it was shot, but was in a wooded area off of the highway. “Another source tells us that this cub was shot while the police were waiting for the Division of Fish & Wildlife to arrive,” they said in an email to the group’s members.
West Orange animal rights activist Carol Rivielle, told Baristanet that the Fish and Wildlife officers would have likely tranquilized the bear, rather than shooting to kill. She explained that Fish & Wildlife relocate stray bears, though often to the Assunpink Wildlife Management Area in Monmouth County, far from their natural habitat.
“It is truly a mystery how this bear cub and another female bear with a cub [recently in Union County] showed up so far from bear country,” said Rivielle in an email. “There are no wooded corridors remaining where a female bear or cub could have traveled through from their Northern NJ natural habitat, and not have been seen along the way.”
Also on Wednesday, a different bear was found cooling off in a variety of North Caldwell pools. Last month, a female bear was shot and killed in Union Township, and last weekend, a 200 pound cub wandered through neighborhoods around Westfield, until it was chased up a tree by a local dog. The cub stayed on the branch until it was tranquilized. It was later released in northern Morris County.
Rivielle suspects that the latter could have been the orphan cub of the one killed in Union. She says that there is no reason to fear Black Bears, and cites the work of bear biologist Lynn Rogers.
One thing is for certain, there are more and more wildlife sightings every day in Baristaville. Where’s Dr. Doolittle when you need him?
Photo credit: HBarrison