Golf Course Bear Just “Playing Through” NJ Suburbs

The juvenile black bear spotted napping on the grounds of the Knickerbocker Country Club in Bergenfield, NJ Sunday appears to have disappeared -- for now.

Various police departments in Bergen County who fielded initial reports of the bear moving through their towns tell NBCNewYork they have received no more 9-1-1 calls.

"I'm afraid to walk my dog," said a worried Aline Gendron, of leafy Harrington Park, after the bear was spotted by her son Mark in their driveway while she was at church.

A neighbor, Shirley Kolkebeck, also spied the bear and followed it for a block in her car while on a 9-1-1 call to police in their otherwise quiet and usually actionless town.

"We're not used to this kind of wildlife," Kolkebeck said, then added "There's many people who don't have fenced-in yards with children."

NJ DEP spokesman Larry Ragonese said the bear that ambled through Harrington Park is likely the same one that 'played through' at the Knickerbocker Country Club a few hours later.

State wildlife officials believe it was a male, about 200 pounds, either forced out of another bear's territory, or looking on its own for new 'digs.'

However, experts say it is unlikely it will take up residence in New York's close-in suburbs, and not just because New Jersey has the highest-in-the-nation property taxes.

"Bears are scared of people," said Debora Davidson, Education Director at the nearby Tenafly Nature Center.

She explained that even her 400 acre sanctuary just across the Hudson River from New York City is too small.

"We are big predators for them so they would prefer not to encounter people.

Nonetheless, when cornered, bears are stronger than people(with the possible exception of Davey Crockett) and so the DEP offers the following tips:

  • Remain calm (But DO NOT Play dead!)
  • Do not feed or approach
  • Let the bear have an escape route
  • Look big by waving your arms
  • Make noise to scare the bear
  • Move to a secure location if the bear does not leave
  • Do not run.

Good luck.

Follow Brian Thompson on Twitter @brian4NY

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