file photo by Boyd Loving
the staff of the Ridgewood blog
Sparta NJ, the Sparta Township Police Department reports an 81-year-old woman was injured and one of her two dogs were killed on Monday night by a black bear.
Sparta Township Police Spokesman Lt. John Lamon, said the Echo Drive resident, who is too distraught over the loss of her English Springer Spaniel and asked not to be identified, told police she had placed her garbage outside for the Tuesday morning pickup. When she took her dogs out around 7 p.m. Monday, they ran toward two bears that had opened up bags and were eating the trash. At the sight of the dogs approaching, one bear ran off into the woods, while the other struck one of the two oncoming dogs.
Sources say the woman yelled at the bear in hopes of getting it away from her injured dog, in the process the bear bit and scratched her. The bear then picked up the hurt dog and carried it near the woods, with the second dog chasing after it.
Lamon said the woman was taken to Newton Medical Center for treatment including stitches to her leg, while responding officers found the dog, which died from its injuries at a veterinary hospital.
New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife game wardens opened an investigation on Tuesday morning, Lamon said and are attempting to find the bear.
According to the Division of Fish and Wildlife, black bears, with the males potentially weighing up to 600 pounds, may be active year-round and not necessarily hibernate. Black bears are the largest land mammal in New Jersey. They are an integral part of the state’s natural heritage and a vital component of healthy ecosystems.
Since the 1980s the Garden State’s black bear population has been increasing and expanding its range both southward and eastward from the forested areas of northwestern New Jersey. Within the most densely populated state in the nation, black bears are thriving and there are now confirmed bear sightings in all 21 of New Jersey’s counties.
The most common bear problem New Jersey’s residents experience is black bears getting into their garbage. Bears are attracted to neighborhoods by garbage odors, so properly securing your garbage is one of the best ways to prevent bears from becoming a nuisance in your community.
Though bears may retreat to their dens in December, the Division of Fish and Wildlife website says, they enter into a state of dormancy called “torpor” and may awaken easily, leaving their dens on warmer days to look for food, with garbage “the main source of unnatural foods for black bears in New Jersey.