Molly Zaidi of Montclair wants her backyard back…and her daily run, too. She sent this message to Baristanet today:
Two bears are still in Mills Reservation. One is sleeping in our back yard. It seems worth making people aware of the situation. I can’t warn everyone who walks past my porch and into the reservation. I gave up running there yesterday after my third encounter. They are clearly not aggressive bears (so far–wonder what happens when the cicada candy goes back underground), but still…People should be able to make an informed choice about going into the reservation.
Zaidi says last week she called the New Jersey Division of Fish & Wildlife, and was told they couldn’t do anything “unless the bear is in my house or up a tree.” When she called later–after sighting a different bear–to ask if it was safe to run in the reservation, she was told to be sure to “stay on the path.” When one of the bears ambled into her backyard, she called the Montclair police. “The officer told me he lives in an area where he sees bears everyday. They don’t seem to think it’s a big deal,” says Zaidi. “I wish they’d at least post a warning sign.”
Zaidi has decided to curtail her runs for now, and is keeping her family out of the backyard. “I’m concerned because the first bear that saw me in my backyard last week just ran away. But yesterday, when I was with a group of walkers, a bear got on its haunches and stared at us. It was a different kind of look. Like he was trying to make himself appear bigger, and telling us this was his territory.”
Is it possible that the cicadas are attracting the bears to Mills? Zaidi, who lives on the eastern side of the reservation in what she calls a “cicada hotspot,” thinks so. “I’ve seen them picking them off the trees, eating them like candy,” she says. Zaidi is worried about what will happen in a few weeks when Magicicada Brood II is gone. “I’m hoping the bears will eat some of the groundhogs–we have so many– and then leave.”
In the meantime, Zaidi and her family are learning more about how to co-exist with the bears. “Last night we arrived home after dark, and got out of the car clapping and singing to ward off the bears,” she says. “I don’t want to live like this the rest of the summer.”
— MyVeronaNJ (@myveronanj) June 10, 2013